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Italy’s Rail Innovation: Ferrovie della Calabria and Stadler Team Up for Hydrogen-Powered Trains

Italy’s Rail Innovation: Ferrovie della Calabria and Stadler Team Up for Hydrogen-Powered Trains
photo: Stadler / Public domain/Stadler
19 / 01 / 2024

The Italian railway operator Ferrovie della Calabria (FdC) has commissioned three new narrow-gauge hydrogen trains. The order is part of the framework agreement signed in 2023 for up to 15 hydrogen-powered trains, set to run on regional and local transport networks in the Italian region of Calabria. Stadler is the first train manufacturer in the world to produce narrow-gauge trains with hydrogen propulsion. It also supplies six for ARST and five for passenger transport in California.

At the beginning of the new year, FdC and Stadler signed the second call-off for the delivery of three more hydrogen trains for the narrow-gauge network (950 mm), for operation on regional and local transport routes within the Italian region of Calabria from 2026. The three new hydrogen-powered vehicles will complete the  FdC fleet commissioned under the framework agreement, which was signed in July 2023. The agreement between Stadler and FdC includes the delivery and maintenance of a total of 15 trains with hydrogen propulsion. The first call was for the delivery of six trains. Both vehicles already on order, as well as the new ones, will be manufactured at Stadler's headquarters in Bussnang, Switzerland. 

The signing of the second call-off is a testament to the leading role Stadler is playing in the decarbonization of rail transport in Italy. Stadler is the world's first railway manufacturer to develop and produce hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge multiple units. 

Ernesto Ferraro, CEO of FdC, expressed his satisfaction with the further agreement with Stadler, saying, “The additional trains ordered from Stadler, with whom we have had a fruitful cooperation for years, are a further investment towards the company's ongoing modernization. The purchase of a further three hydrogen-powered trains, in addition to the six already commissioned, and the other investments underway, including those for modernizing and speeding up the railway infrastructure, renewing the rolling stock on the road, building the hydrogen production plant, and innovating the company's technology and infrastructure, represent the concrete implementation of the company's strategies launched with the ambition to become a modern and sustainable transport company within the next three years. These goals are now possible thanks to the synergy  created with the Region of Calabria, the company's sole shareholder, and with the relevant Ministries, which  have made available the necessary resources to support the industrial plan that the company is pursuing, and  to whom our thanks go.”

Aristide Vercillo Martino, FdC's Investment Manager - PNRR - IT, added, “The project launched in recent years as part of the ecological transition, with a project to use hydrogen as a new fuel for its means of transport, and a total investment of more than 400 million euro, confirms the company's desire to become a leader in regional transport and to provide more services to users, with innovative processes and in line with the objectives that a modern company must set itself. The synergy created over the years with Stadler will make it possible to  accelerate the processes initiated to improve rail services in the area.” 

Ansgar Brockmeyer, Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Stadler, said, “We are very proud that FdC has once again commissioned Stadler to supply additional trains. In partnership with FdC, we are driving forward the decarbonization of rail transport in Italy. The new narrow-gauge hydrogen trains are a world first and pave the way to sustainable rail transport on narrow-gauge lines worldwide. We thank FdC for the trust  and look forward to deepening our partnership with them.” 

Maurizio Oberti, Marketing & Sales Director for Italy, commented, “This additional order consolidates Stadler's positioning in Italy. The entire portfolio of Stadler products and vehicles has already been acquired by several Italian regions and operators, from trams and metros to long-distance vehicles and locomotives. This is a  remarkable achievement for Stadler.” 

More about the trains 

The vehicles consist of two passenger cars and a power pack. The cars feature lightweight aluminum structures to make the trains more energy efficient. The power pack houses the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, as well as other technical equipment. 

With a total length of around 50 meters, the new trains offer 89 seats per vehicle for a total of 155 passengers. Thanks to their low-floor access, they are fully accessible not only for people with reduced mobility but also for passengers with pushchairs and bicycles. The new vehicles also offer specific areas near the access and exit doors and a PRM toilet compliant with TSI standards.

Sustainability on track 

Stadler's alternative drive solutions make rail travel more environmentally friendly, even in places where there was previously no alternative to diesel. In addition to battery-powered trains, Stadler is developing hydrogen-powered rail vehicles, enabling emission-free operation on routes without overhead lines. The FdC contract in  Italy will see Stadler design and manufacture the first hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge multiple unit for the  Calabria region. Two other regions in Italy have already chosen Stadler's sustainable railway solutions. The new hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge trains for FdC are expected to enter service in 2026.


Source: Stadler