Swiss rail vehicle manufacturer Stadler Rail has made headlines with its hydrogen fuel-cell passenger train, setting a new Guinness World Record by traveling almost continuously for nearly two days, covering an impressive distance of 1,741.7 miles.

While efforts to clean up railway transportation are underway worldwide, including electrification projects and the introduction of battery-electric locomotives, not all rail networks can easily support these advancements. For long-haul transportation where electrification is not feasible, hydrogen-powered trains offer a promising solution, emitting only steam and water as byproducts.

Stadler Rail’s Flirt H2 passenger model, initially introduced at InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin and tested in Switzerland, is designed to replace diesel-powered trains on non-electrified or partially electrified routes. Featuring two motor-driven end cars with hydrogen tanks and fuel cells in between, the Flirt H2 utilizes fuel cells to generate energy for an onboard battery, powering the electric drive.

Originally designed for California’s San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, the Flirt H2 boasts a reported top speed of 79 mph and a range of 286 miles per refueling stop. However, recent testing at the ENSCO test circuit in Pueblo, Colorado, shattered previous range records as the train covered an astounding 1,741.7 miles on a single tank of hydrogen.

The achievement earned Stadler Rail the Guinness World Record for the “longest distance traveled by a hydrogen-powered passenger train without refueling or recharging.” While specific details such as average speed and fuel-cell system capacity remain undisclosed, the milestone underscores the potential of hydrogen-powered trains in revolutionizing rail transportation.

Dr. Ansgar Brockmeyer of Stadler expressed pride in the team’s accomplishment, stating, “This world record establishes the ideal performance range of our hydrogen version of the best-selling Flirt Electric Multiple Unit, the Flirt H2.”

With confirmed orders in California and contracts signed by two Italian rail operators for the supply of 15 hydrogen-powered trains, Stadler Rail is poised to lead the charge in advancing sustainable railway technology.

By Impact Lab