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MSU research leads to contract for North America’s ?rst commercial hydrogen-powered train

On the Right Track

MSU research leads to contract for North America’s ?rst commercial hydrogen-powered train

When the first hydrogen-powered train pulls away from its San Bernardino County California station in 2024, Spartans will have helped bring it to fruition.

The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) turned to the university to explore zero-to-low-emissions fuel options for its new Arrow railway service. MSU is home to the Center for Railway Research and Education, in the Eli Broad College of Business.

“Being in one of the worst air quality areas in the nation, projects like this are critical to our mission to improve the quality of life for San Bernardino County residents,” said Carrie Schindler, director of Transit and Rail Pro-grams at the SBCTA.

MSU researchers considered such fuels as hydrogen, electricity, natural gas, diesel, biofuels, batteries and some hybrids.

The SBCTA chose the hydrogen-fuel-cell- hybrid train for its scalability and the potential to expand service areas.

Andreas Hoffrichter, Burkhardt Professor in Railway Management and executive director of MSU’s railway research group, said, “We are globally leading in this field with particular expertise in hydrogen-fuel-cell railway vehicles, so this project was a natural fit.”

Initially, the passenger train will zip along a nine-mile corridor in San Bernardino County. Planners envision a day when Arrow will make runs to and  from Los Angeles too.

The Birmingham Center for Railway Research Education and Mott MacDonald partnered with MSU on the project. Funding came from the California State Transportation Agency.


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