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Stadler wins contracts for up to 120 battery-powered trains, 25 hydrogen trains

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) has awarded Stadler a framework agreement for up to 120 battery-powered trains. The FLIRT Akku vehicles are designed to replace the current diesel fleet and will enable sustainable operation on lines that are only partially electrified. The signing of the framework agreement and the initial order for 16 FLIRT battery is expected to take place in autumn 2023.


Separately, Italian railway operators Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti (ARST) and Ferrovie della Calabria (FdC) awarded Stadler two framework agreements for the supply and maintenance of 10 hydrogen trains for ARST in Sardinia and 15 similar vehicles for FdC in Calabria. This will make Stadler the first train manufacturer in the world to supply narrow-gauge trains with hydrogen propulsion.

In addition, after delivering the FLIRT H2 for American passenger transport, Stadler is now also supplying hydrogen trains to Europe for the first time. As initial call-off orders from the framework agreements, ARST and FdC signed two contracts with Stadler in Rome today for the delivery of the first 12 hydrogen trains, 6 for each of the Italian companies.

The FLIRT Akku vehicles are the battery-powered version of Stadler’s best-selling FLIRT model, which has already sold over 2,500 units worldwide. They are intended for use in the eastern region in Austria, where they will replace the current diesel fleet. The FLIRT Akku model allows sustainable rail operation on non-electrified line sections by charging the traction batteries while travelling under an overhead contact line.


The vehicle has an operating range of around 100 kilometers. This means that the regional train can be battery operated on almost all of the non-electrified routes in Austria, for example. After successfully covering 224 kilometers in battery-only mode, the FLIRT Akku holds the world record for the longest journey travelled by a regional train in battery-only mode without additional charging.

As well as delivering new trains for ÖBB, Stadler is also supplying 55 FLIRT Akku vehicles for the Schleswig-Holstein local transport network, 44 trains for the Palatinate network and 14 trains for Deutsche Bahn’s H-Netz. The vehicles for Schleswig-Holstein are currently undergoing approval tests and will start passenger service later this year. In addition, Stadler is also manufacturing six FLIRT Akku for the Lithuanian rail operator LTG Link.

In addition to battery-powered trains, Stadler is also pushing ahead with the development of rail vehicles that run on hydrogen. These allow low-emission rail operation, especially on lines without an overhead contact line. Stadler designed and built the first multiple unit with hydrogen propulsion for SBCTA in California. After a successful test phase this spring, the vehicle is due to start operating in 2024.

Following two public tenders launched in June, Italian railway operators ARST in Sardinia and FdC in Calabria have each awarded Stadler a framework agreement for the design, production, delivery and maintenance of 10 and 15 trains respectively. The vehicles will be equipped with hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion and be dedicated to regional and suburban services for the narrow-gauge (950-mm) network in the two Italian regions. Both projects are being financed with EU funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).


Initial call-off orders from these framework agreements have been placed for the supply of 6 hydrogen trains for ARST and a further 6 vehicles for FdC. The vehicles will be developed and built at Stadler’s headquarters in Bussnang (Switzerland).

The vehicles consist of two passenger cars, the lightweight aluminum construction of which helps to increase the train’s energy efficiency, and a power pack to house the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, as well as other technical equipment.

With an overall length of around 50 meters, the new trains have 89 seats per vehicle for a total of 155 passengers transported, and are fully accessible for people with reduced mobility. Furthermore, the new vehicles offer specific areas for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bicycles positioned near the access and exit doors, as well as a PRM toilet compliant with TSI standards.



The inclusion of some hydrogen trains greatly increases the flexibility of the fleet and simplifies its management.

They can effectively operate in the same performance envelope as diesel trains, which BEV trains can't.

That does not mean that it is a mistake to have a lot of pure BEV trains, as they can be more cost effective and energy efficient, but can't cover the same journey lengths under all climatic conditions as FCEVs.

A deregiste view of ' the correct solution' is not either practical or optimal.

The reality is an ever changing mix of applying the technologies available right now to arrive at a cost efficient., flexible and environmentally benign solution.


@ Davemart:
Ever hear of a pantograph? You don't need a continuous overhead line; just a section long enough to assure a power boost to sustain to the next section. H2 will never be competitive on a economical basis.


Just like the engineers who came up with this specification, I have heard of lots of methods of electrification.

Whether you use a pantograph or a live rail, electrification costs a lot of money per killometer.

That is why not all lines are electrified, as it simply costs too much for lower density routes.

For those, batteries or fuel cells are a lot more cost effective.

Europe has loads more electrified routes than the US, but you still can't electrify everything.


Without wishing to be uncharitable or disrespectful to those whose views differ from mine, perhaps I should add that the engineers who chose options are rarely simply ignorant of possible alternatives.

They are not ignoring some alternative which would in the opinion of some be far better, but for instance in this case pantographs did not meet their criteria.

Whether that is the right judgement in any particular case is of course open to question, and naturally they don't always get things right, but that is difficult to determine without access to the precise figures, and the specific engineering credentials to do a case specific analysis.

But the point is that they have not simply 'forgotten about pantographs' but ignored them for some obscure and unexplained reason.

They can get things wrong in specific cases, like the rest of us, but the engineering departments are not ccomprised solely of wilfully obtuse ignoramuses, who are overlooking what appears obvious to some.

And in many instances ' why don't they just' boils down to that it costs too much.


It seems the battery models have a maximum of 200 km of range. So these are pretty small batteries. I would like to see some specs, like chemistry and energy/weight.

Good to see some movement in battery powered trains, I think there is a lot of opportunities there that make economic sense.


' Good to see some movement in battery powered trains, I think there is a lot of opportunities there that make economic sense.'

I agree,

Where they can do the job, use them.

Over longer distances, more challenging terrain and climate etc, the weight ratios become excessive.

Should batteries improve, then their performance envelope will too.

But fuel cells are not standing still technically either.

So at any given time, you pick what works cost effectively for the job.


I'd also point out that in spite of climate change, electrification of more lines either through live rails or pantographs is not more urgent and arguably less so than formerly,

That is because the alternative to elecrified lines was diesel, with all its pollution, carbon emissions and so on.

Now where it is not cost effective to electrify a line, we have very low pollution and carbon emission alternatives, through some combination of batteries and fuel cells.

What we can do now is way, way better than previously, one way or another.

It is important to acknowlege progress when we make it, as well as the clearly substantial problems which arise in for instance climate change.


I think there is a price point (for batteries or FC) where using pantographs make no sense any more. But the rail industry is notoriously conservative, so I am not sure they are evaluating these modern alternatives properly.
A modern battery like BYD's blade was unimaginable just 10 years ago (for price, longevity, weight...).



Yep, it is always legitimate to question the assumptions and balances behind various choices.

What is not really on, in my view, is to imagine that the engineers are entirely ignorant of some favoured alternative, so for instance that they have just ignored pantographs or not realised they exist.

On another note, one tendency I am pretty unenthusiastic on for batteries is that they are now becoming part of the structure, which is leading to cars simply being scrapped when they get a minor knock.,

So I would disagree that things like the blade battery were unimaginable ten years ago, as indeed ten years ago on this very forum many, including me, were hoping for much more rapid progress in energy density than eventuated, maybe for something like solid state with pure lithium anodes, which would have obviated the temptation to build batteries into the structure, which has been driven by what has in fact been relatively modest energy density improvements.



What I am currently a bit hopeful for which would be revolutionary is in the road wireless charging, as one heck of a lot more stuff is shifted on the roads than the railroads, and it would kill the need for giant, weighty batteries!

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