Battery trains for Chicagoland: Stadler gets another order from the USA

Battery trains for Chicagoland: Stadler gets another order from the USA
© Stadler

Following the success with hydrogen units in California, Stadler will deliver Chicago Metra up to 16 FLIRT battery-electric multiple units (BEMU).

This deal, representing the first competitive bid for battery trainsets in the U.S., underscores Stadler's role in the development of rail vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The initial order includes eight two-car trainsets, with the option to expand these catering to the needs of Chicago's Rock Island Line. Each two-car set will seat 112 people, and each additional trailer car will provide seating for about 46 people.

The contract with Stadler U.S., of Salt Lake City, Utah, includes a $154 million base order for 8 two-car, battery-powered trainsets. The option worth $181.4 million is for eight more trainsets and up to 32 trailer cars, which could be added to the two-car trainsets to create three- or four-car trainsets.

Battery trains for Chicagoland: Stadler gets another order from the USA

Metra plans to introduce the trainsets between LaSalle St. and Blue Island on the Beverly Branch of the Rock Island Line, a distance of 16.4 miles (26 km). Economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods on the South Side of Chicago and in the near south suburbs should benefit from this ecological form of transportation.

Constructed in compliance with the Buy America Act, these trains will be manufactured within the United States, aligning with both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) standards. This initiative not only champions emission-free transit within the urban fabric of Chicago but also sets a precedent for modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly urban mobility solutions.

Designed to endure Chicago's harsh winter conditions, the trains will feature advanced air conditioning technology, underfloor heating in boarding areas, special insulation, and sealed machine rooms to protect the drive systems. This winterization ensures reliable service throughout the year, regardless of weather challenges.

A fully charged trainset is expected to have a range of 45 to 65 miles (70 to 100 km). Charging time will vary, but going from a 20 to 80% charge – enough for the trainset to operate – is expected to take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Apart from a deal with Metra, Stadler has also been contracted by the Californian rail operator Caltrain to develop the U.S.'s first battery-electric double-decker multiple-unit train, specifically designed for low-emission operation on partially electrified routes.

In addition to these orders, Stadler agreed in October 2023 to supply 29 hydrogen-powered trains for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and Caltrans, with an initial call-off of four hydrogen trains and an additional six ordered at the beginning of 2024.

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