Swiss-designed hydrogen trains are coming to Europe, Stadler confirms

Swiss-designed hydrogen trains are coming to Europe, Stadler confirms

The Swiss rail firm Stadler has received its first-ever European order for its FLIRT H2 hydrogen-powered trains. The international company is set to become just the second firm in Europe to build the vehicles for use on regular public transport.

Swiss-designed Stadler trains to run in Italy

Speaking to Swissinfo, the company confirmed that two Italian rail operators, Azienda regionale sarda trasporti (ARST) and Ferrovie della Calabria (FdC), have ordered 10 and 15 hydrogen-powered trains respectively. The trains will be familiar to passengers in Switzerland as the narrow-gauge FLIRT H2 vehicles bear a striking resemblance to the larger RER locomotives used around Lake Geneva and the new passenger trains introduced by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) in July.

However, unlike their mains-driven counterparts, the FLIRT H2 uses power generated onboard through hydrogen fuel cells. In a similar way to a diesel-electric train, hydrogen fuel is sent to a generator onboard which then uses the element to produce electricity and water - the only by-products of the process. For many, using cleanly sourced and refined hydrogen on non-electrified rail routes is one of the ways that public transport can achieve climate neutrality.

Video: Stadler Rail / YouTube

FLIRT H2 trains to run in US and Europe

Stadler, based in Bussnang, Canton Thurgau, was also the first company in the world to receive an order for a hydrogen train in the US. In 2019, the San Bernardino County Transit Authority in California ordered the same train for use on the "Arrow" line between San Bernadino and Redlands. They are expected to be used from 2024 onwards.

With the new Italian order, the FLIRT H2 train will become just the second hydrogen-powered train in Europe that runs regularly - the first being the 27 Alstom trains that have operated out of Frankfurt since 2022. To see the new Swiss-designed trains in action, avid trainspotters will need to head to the island of Sardinia or the southern tip of mainland Italy in Calabria . 

Narrow-gauge hydrogen trains are a world first, say Stadler

"The new hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge trains are a world first and will pioneer sustainable rail transport on narrow-gauge lines around the world," noted Stadler head of marketing Ansgar Brockmeyer.

While the cost of the trains is yet to be revealed, Stadler noted that both Italian train companies have used European funds to buy the FLIRTs. The European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is a fund that is available to EU states that want to transition towards more climate-friendly policies like green transportation. They are expected to take to the tracks by 2026.

Thumb image credit: Maksim Safaniuk /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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