Utah State University, ASPIRE Engineering Research Center and Stadler partner to advance battery-powered passenger train

Feb. 16, 2023
FLIRT will be the first zero-emission, single-decker, lightweight train in North America and can be tailored according to customers’ needs.

Utah State University and the ASPIRE Engineering Research Center are partnering with Swiss-based Stadler to develop and test Stadler’s FLIRT battery-powered passenger train. This train will be the first of its kind in North America.

The goal of the project is to develop and build a battery-powered two-car-trainset. FLIRT is a single-decker, lightweight train.

The collaboration between ASPIRE and Stadler is planned to provide a model to demonstrate Stadler’s zero- emission capabilities in real life. While Stadler’s focus is on the design and build of the trainset itself, ASPIRE will focus on charging infrastructure, workforce development and potential impact in Utah. Tests are planned to take place at Stadler’s facility in Salt Lake City.

ASPIRE was awarded legislative funding to help achieve three goals with this technology:

  1. Workforce development
  2.  Economic impact
  3. Improving air quality

The FLIRT model will be similar to the diesel and electric versions and can be tailored according to customers’ needs.

Stadler currently has contracts for battery trains for Germany. Diesel FLIRT from Stadler are already operating in Texas for TEXrail and in California for San Bernardino County Transportation Authority. However, this is Stadler’s first time introducing the battery FLIRT to the U.S. market, which requires expansive research and development to adapt the vehicle for U.S. infrastructure and regulations.

“We are honored to partner with Stadler on this groundbreaking project. Success will bring design and manufacturing jobs to Utah. It will also chart the path to electrified commuter and light-rail systems along the Wasatch Front,” said Dr. Regan Zane, director of the NSF ASPIRE Engineering Research Center. “The battery-electric train solution will improve air quality and reduce operating costs while supporting shared charging infrastructure with trucks, buses and cars. We’re beyond pleased to have such an incredible opportunity to be working with a world class manufacturer here in the state.”

“With little to no electrified routes in the North American public rail transit system, a battery train is a great zero-emission alternative to diesel-powered vehicles. After a contract for a hydrogen-powered FLIRT for California, we are now excited to bring a battery solution to the United States to add to our zero-emission product line,” said Martin Ritter, CEO of Stadler U.S., Inc. “In ASPIRE, we have found an excellent partner to develop the most efficient and fully integrated system for environmentally friendly mobility. We are proud to be able to work with local talent to design and build this technology here in Utah.”

“The Utah Legislature is committed to developing strong public-private partnerships that result in innovative solutions to critical issues facing our state. We are thrilled to be partners in this project and look forward to its success,” said Mike Schultz, majority leader, Utah House of Representatives.