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Zero emissions multiple unit
These zero emissions trains will improve air quality in the San Bernardino region
Image credit The ZEMU Arrow passenger rail vehicle. Rendering courtesy of SBCTA and Stadler.
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Passenger rail with zero emissions

A new transport technology could offer potential greenhouse gas reductions and other benefits throughout California and the US.

The ZEMU vehicle will be the first hydrogen fuel cell-battery hybrid passenger train in North America.

Opportunity

The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) is expanding its public transit network with the Redlands Passenger Rail project. It will serve communities and job centres between Redlands and San Bernardino in southern California and open with diesel multiple unit rail vehicles.

As the SBCTA expands passenger rail service further, in communities east of Los Angeles, it wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing the diesel vehicles with zero emissions multiple unit (ZEMU) by 2025.

Solution

On behalf of the SBCTA, we prepared a grant application that won US$30M from the California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Programme. The money was allocated for research, development, and implementation of a ZEMU vehicle, and eventually the conversion of the existing vehicles.

We then evaluated zero emissions technologies including alternative fuels, batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, and hybrids. In July 2019, the SBCTA’s board unanimously approved the implementation of a hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid vehicle.

Our team is now supporting the SBCTA by overseeing the vehicle manufacturer Stadler, which is producing the vehicle that will operate on the planned Redlands corridor.
We are also identifying and developing conceptual designs for the supporting infrastructure, and working with federal, state and local agencies to obtain compliance with regulations and requirements. Once ZEMU is approved, it can be easily expanded throughout the freight and commuter rail system without major capital investment.

Outcome

The ZEMU vehicle will be the first hydrogen fuel cell-battery hybrid passenger train in North America. The zero emissions trains will improve air quality in the region and demonstrate the potential greenhouse gas reductions and other benefits that this technology could offer throughout California and the US.

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