Swiss hydrogen train travels 2.803 kilometres without refuelling

Swiss hydrogen train travels 2.803 kilometres without refuelling

A hydrogen-powered train designed by Stadler has earned its place in the record books, after travelling 2.803 kilometres without refuelling. The FLIRT H2 trains from the Swiss international company secured the world distance record at an attempt in Colorado, USA.

Stadler's FLIRT H2 hydrogen trains runs 46 hours non-stop

In a statement, Stadler confirmed that its FLIRT H2 hydrogen train managed to travel 2.803 kilometres without having to refuel, the equivalent of going as the crow flies from Zurich to Berlin and back, twice. At the event in Pueblo, Colorado on March 20, a team from the company drove the train in shifts for over 46 hours without refuelling, comfortably securing the Guinness World Record for distance covered by a hydrogen fuel cell passenger train.

The achievement marks another accolade to add to Stadler’s trophy cabinet, with the company also holding the record for the longest train journey run on batteries alone. At that attempt in December 2021, a battery version of the FLIRT train was able to run 224 kilometres on one charge.

Hydrogen has been touted as an environmental fuel for well over a decade, as while greenhouse gases are expelled in refining the fuel, the power source itself does not expel any carbon emissions. “By using hydrogen as a clean energy source, we are actively contributing to environmental protection and shaping the sustainable and zero emission travel of tomorrow,” noted Stadler US CEO, Martin Ritter.

FLIRT H2: A Swiss-designed hydrogen train

The FLIRT H2, designed in Bussnang, Canton Thurgau, 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 2023. However, unlike its mains-driven counterparts, the Swiss invention 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 trains, hydrogen power is seen as a replacement for public transport services on lines that are not yet electrified. 

This is reflected in where the FLIRT H2 is going to be used: so far, the train is set to be used on the “Arrow” line between San Bernadino and Redlands in California and on rural lines in Sardinia and Calabria in Italy. The H2 is going to be the first hydrogen train to be used in the US and the second in Europe - the first being the 27 Alstom hydrogen trains that have operated out of Frankfurt since 2022.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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