Utah State University and the ASPIRE Engineering Research Center will partner with Swiss-based Stadler to develop and test a battery-powered passenger train known as FLIRT. The train will be the first of its kind in North America.
The goal of the project is to develop and build a battery-powered two-car-trainset. The Battery FLIRT, a single-decker, lightweight train, is the solution for routes without end-to-end electrification. A battery-powered train is the solution to travel without overhead electric infrastructure, enabling emission-free travel and allowing for longer routes.
The collaboration between ASPIRE and Stadler is planned to provide a model to demonstrate Stadler’s zero emission capabilities in real life. While Stadler’s focus is on the design and build of the trainset itself, ASPIRE will focus on charging infrastructure, workforce development, and potential impact in Utah. Tests are planned to take place at Stadler’s facility in Salt Lake City.
ASPIRE was awarded legislative funding to help achieve three goals with this technology: workforce development, economic impact, and improving air quality. The battery FLIRT model will be similar to the diesel and electric versions and can be tailored according to customers’ needs.
Stadler currently has contracts for battery trains in Germany. Diesel FLIRT from Stadler are already operating in Texas for Texrail and in California for SBCTA. However, this is Stadler’s first time introducing the battery FLIRT to the U.S. market, which requires expansive research and development to adapt the vehicle for U.S. infrastructure and regulations.
“With little to no electrified routes in the North American public rail transit system, a battery train is a great zero-emission alternative to diesel-powered vehicles. After a contract for a hydrogen-powered FLIRT for California, we are now excited to bring a battery solution to the United States to add to our zero-emission product line,” said Martin Ritter, CEO of Stadler US Inc. “In ASPIRE, we have found an excellent partner to develop the most efficient and fully integrated system for environmentally friendly mobility. We are proud to be able to work with local talent to design and build this technology here in Utah.”