World record | Hydrogen train travels nearly 3,000km without refuelling

The US’s first H2 train operates for 46 hours on Salt Lake City test track

A train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell travelled nearly 3,000km without refuelling, landing it a place in the Guinness World Records database, the manufacturer of the train revealed yesterday (Monday).

The Flirt H2 model, made by Swiss trainmaker Stadler, travelled 1,741 miles (2,803km) on a test track in Colorado, over the course of 46 hours on the evening of 20 March and throughout the night and following day.

The train started the test with a full tank and did not refuel, with drivers from Stadler and Ensco taking it in turns to operate the machine throughout the world record attempt.

Guinness World Records certified the effort as the longest distance travelled by a hydrogen-powered multi-car passenger train on a single tank.

The 2,803km distance is over six times the advertised range of 460km for the Flirt H2 — which takes 30 minutes to refuel — however this is likely a reflection of the fact that the manufacturer was able to optimise the train’s operation on the test track, without the need to stop and start, or travel on an incline.

In 2022, the hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint, travelled 1,175km without refuelling during the course of normal operation in Germany, manufacturer Alstom reported at the time.

Stadler did not reveal any details of the size of the fuel cells fitted to the record-breaking train, however the Flirt H2 model supplied to the San Bernadino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) in California this year — set to be the US’s first hydrogen train — is fitted with 12 fuel cells of 100kW each, implying an overall hydrogen powertrain of 1.2MW.

“This world record establishes the ideal performance range of our hydrogen version of the best-selling Flirt Electric Multiple Unit, the Flirt H2,” Ansgar Brockmeyer, executive vice-president of marketing and sales at Stadler said.

However, the track earmarked for the two-car Flirt H2 by SBCTA is not long-distance — the train will instead operate along a 14km route.

The train is currently undergoing testing ahead of its scheduled entry-into-service this year.

The state of California has since ordered four four-car hydrogen fuel cell trains from Stadler for the California State Transportation Agency, with the option to order a further six in 2024.

Hydrogen Insight reached out to Stadler for further information but had not received a response at the time of publication.

UPDATE: the test track is located in Colorado, not Salt Lake City as previously stated in an earlier version of this article(Copyright)

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