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US Universities, Stadler Rail Team Up To Bring Battery-Electric Train Revolution

The Swiss company, together with Utah State University and ASPIRE, will make possible the implementation of a battery electric train for the first time in the United States. This electric train will be the well-known “FLIRT Akku”, which holds the record for traveling in 100% electric mode without any additional charging.

Stadler, a Swiss provider of mobility solutions in signaling technology, services and rail vehicle construction, has signed a contract with Utah State University (USU) and the ASPIRE Engineering Research Center to develop and test a battery-powered passenger train in North America. The train will be based on Stadler's FLIRT Akku model, which is a multi-unit, single-deck light rail for regional transportation. The battery drive of the FLIRT Akku enables rail transport without carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on non-electrified lines, making it an excellent alternative to diesel vehicles.

It will be an electric train specially developed for the United States market. The FLIRT Akku has already replaced diesel fleets in Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in Germany, and Stadler has in fact sold more than 110 FLIRT Akku vehicles to date.

The cooperation of USU and ASPIRE will support the development of modern technologies for the FLIRT Akku, so that it can meet the specific needs of the North American market. This means developing and testing new systems, components, and software to certify the battery-electric train to be used in the United States. The cooperation also includes designing a training program to ensure rail operators are suitably prepared and qualified to operate the electric train.

The goal of the project is to develop, build and test a multiple unit for two battery powered FLIRT Akku models to suit the US market. To achieve this Stadler is concentrating on the design and production of the train, while ASPIRE is working on the development of the ground charging infrastructure for the vehicle. During these extensive tests, USU, ASPIRE and Stadler hope to gain insights crucial to decarbonizing American passenger transportation through the use of battery-powered trains.

The FLIRT Akku has already set a world record for the longest journey made by a regional train in battery-only mode without additional charging, covering 140 miles (224 km). The vehicle has a normal range of approximately 60 miles (100 km), which makes it ideal for regional transport. In addition to the pure electric and battery versions, Stadler also makes a hydrogen-powered FLIRT model. The company is currently developing the first hydrogen-powered FLIRT for the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, in California.

The battery train project with USU and ASPIRE will also help create many well-paid green jobs, and support shared charging infrastructure with electric trucks, buses and cars, greatly improving air quality and reducing operating costs. For all these reasons, Stadler's FLIRT Akku battery train aims to be an important milestone in the decarbonization of passenger transportation in North America. With battery propulsion technology, the train can operate without CO2 emissions on non-electrified lines, making it an ideal alternative to diesel vehicles.

The FLIRT Akku is already a successful product in Europe and its use in the United States will revolutionize the passenger transport market. This collaboration between Staldler, USU and ASPIRE will not only reduce emissions but also improve the speed and comfort of rail transportation in the United States. The experience and knowledge acquired during this partnership will be beneficial to both the European and US markets.

Source: stadlerrail

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.