Transit Briefs: Alstom, VTA, PRT, MaineDOT

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Alstom's Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train will carry passengers on Quebec's Réseau Charlevoix rail network this summer.

Alstom's Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train will carry passengers on Quebec's Réseau Charlevoix rail network this summer.

Alstom’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train will demonstrate green traction in Quebec. Also, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) wins first place in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 2023 AdWheel Awards for communications and marketing; Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) is offering bulk transit passes in pilot program; and the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) proposes $3 million for a pilot project for passenger rail service between Rockland and Brunswick.


Alstom, in partnership with the Government of Quebec, Chemin de fer Charlevois, Train de Charlevoix, Harnois Énergies and HTEC, announced on Feb. 2 a passenger service demonstration project for its Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train.

During summer 2023, Alstom says the Coradia iLint will carry passengers on the Réseau  Charlevoix rail network, along the St. Lawrence River, between Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and Baie-St-Paul. The train will be powered by green hydrogen produced by Harnois Énergies at its Quebec City site.

According to Alstom, the Province of Quebec will be the first jurisdiction in the Americas to run a train with zero direct emissions powered by green hydrogen, “demonstrating its leadership in the transition to a low-carbon economy and the set-up of ecosystems dedicated to hydrogen.” The operation of this train with passengers on board, the company says, will allow Alstom and its partners to “better assess the subsequent steps for the development of hydrogen propulsion technology and its penetration into the North American market.”

Alstom’s Coradia iLint, which first entered commercial service in Germany in 2018 and has since traveled more than 220,000 kilometers in eight European countries, is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that emits only water vapor during operation, while ensuring a quieter environment for passengers and those close to tracks. On Sept. 15, 2022, the Coradia iLint traveled the record distance of 1,175 kilometers without refueling.

According to Alstom, Coradia iLint has a top speed of 140 km/h and acceleration and a braking performance comparable to a standard regional diesel train–but without the noise and the emissions. Coradia iLint, the company says, stands out for “its combination of innovative features,” including clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, smart traction and energy management. Designed especially for non-electrified lines, it allows for safe, clean and sustainable operations. To date, 41 trainsets have been ordered by clients in Europe.

“As early as 2018, Alstom was the first to put a hydrogen train into service in Europe and we aim to be the first in the Americas, as well,” said Alstom Americas President Michael Keroullé. “With only 1% of the networks electrified in our region, this technology will provide an alternative to diesel. This project will demonstrate our capabilities to provide more sustainable mobility solutions to customers, agencies and operators, as well as to passengers. It will also provide an extraordinary showcase for Quebec’s developing green hydrogen ecosystem.”

Commercial service of the Coradia iLint in Quebec is the first mandate of Alstom’s innovation center in the Americas, which is dedicated to sustainable mobility solutions. This is the first milestone in the development of an ecosystem around Alstom’s rail solutions with zero direct emissions. The primary mission of this center, which is located in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, Alstom says, is the development of future platforms with hybrid, battery or green hydrogen propulsion specifically adapted to the North American market, “leveraging the proximity to the more than 700 Alstom engineers currently working in the city to help accelerate the decarbonization of the rail sector.” For the Coradia iLint demonstration project, the center’s engineers will work closely with key players in Quebec’s research and innovation sector, as well as with industrial partners in the Quebec battery and hydrogen industries.

“Quebec is positioning itself as a center of expertise in sustainable transportation on the continent,” said Premier of Quebec François Legault. “Promising innovations such as Alstom’s will not only help us achieve our ambitious climate change targets, but they will also be able to be exported elsewhere in the world. I am convinced that our nation has everything it takes to become one of the international leaders in the green economy.”

“We are pleased to leverage our infrastructure for this exciting project,” added President of Groupe Le Massif and of Chemin de fer de Charlevoix Claude Choquette. “This initiative is not only a perfect fit with our corporate social responsibility plan, which includes a sustainable mobility component, but it also generates significant reach for the Charlevoix region, which is at the heart of our organizational vision.”

“Harnois Energies is very proud to be the green hydrogen supplier for this green transition project,” said Luc Harnois, Executive Vice President and shareholder of Harnois Énergies. “Our participation in this project in a logical continuation of our decision to invest in the construction of a hydrogen station in 2018. Harnois Énergies is more than ever actively participating in the coexistence of energy and vehicle types to meet the needs of consumers.”


VTA announced Feb. 1 that its “VTA Summer Youth Pass” campaign has won a First Place Award in APTA’s 2023 AdWheel Awards competition in the “Best Marketing and Communications to Support Ridership” category.

The 2022 Summer Youth Pass (SYP), VTA says, “targeted families that have Gen Z pre-teens and teenagers (ages 11-18) looking for independence during the summer and parents seeking relief from driving duties during the summer break.”

According to VTA, ridership was down due to the pandemic and usually decreases even further during the summer break.

To successfully reintroduce SYP, which has been an annual summer fare program for more than 15 years, after a two-year hiatus, the promotional strategy, VTA says, had to be “in line with post-pandemic cultural shifts.” As a first for the agency, VTA partnered with local, women-owned and minority-owned businesses offering special discounts to SYP customers: Nirvana Soul Coffee, KTea Café, Jackie’s Place Soul Food and Mayan Kitchen.

VTA also partnered with local artist Jasmine Yee to design the 2022 pass artwork, which “highlighted the diversity and inclusion of Santa Clara County and VTA’s partnership with these women-owned businesses.”

As a result, VTA says it sold 1,016 passes and exceeded its goal by 2%. With cross-promotion on social media among the four businesses, the artist, and VTA, VTA says it was able to reach many new SYP customers throughout the community. 

“With this campaign we were able to reassure our customers that VTA is safe to ride even through the pandemic,” the agency said. “By working together with local small businesses and artists, we were able to establish goodwill in our communities and help struggling businesses increase foot traffic.

“Our efforts to reintroduce SYP are a prime example of how various communities across the world have worked to rebuild post-pandemic. From the diversity-highlighting art, promoting minority women-owned small businesses, to reintroducing public transit as a feasible option for busy families, the SYP program came back strong and shows a promising future.”

First Place winners will be recognized and presented with certificates on-stage during the AdWheel Awards Luncheon at APTA’s 2023 Marketing & Communications Workshop in Las Vegas, later this month.


PRT is accepting applications from businesses and multifamily, residential buildings for its new Bulk Pass Pilot Program, which would provide transit passes for employees or tenants at significant discounts, according to a Tribune-Review report.

According to the report, the pilot would allow “businesses and multifamily residential buildings that are located within a half-mile of PRT service to buy passes in bulk for their employees or tenants.”

Monthly passes cost riders $97.50 but the Bulk Pass Pilot Program would sell passes on a bulk basis for $25 a month per pass, according to the Tribune-Review report. Applicants, which must have 10 employees or units to be eligible, can apply through March 3 for the pilot, which is expected to start on April 3 and run for six months.

According to the Tribune-Review report, if implemented on a permanent scale, “the pricing and regulations of bulk passes may change.”

“The six-month pilot is meant to gauge interest, determine the appropriate pricing structure and track ridership changes among participants,” PRT said, according to the report.

The bulk pass program will distribute passes through PRT’s mobile ticketing application. More information is available here.


MaineDOT has proposed committing $3 million over the next two years for a pilot project for passenger rail service between Rockland and Brunswick, according to a Courier-Gazette report.

According to the report, the proposed funding in MaineDOT’s three-year work plan, which was released Jan. 25, covers 2023, 2024 and 2025.

According to the Courier-Gazette report, Finger Lakes Railway in Geneva, N.Y., in July took over a lease with MaineDOT for freight service on the 56-mile-long Rockland to Brunswick line, which had been held by CP. The lease runs through Dec. 31, 2025.

According to the Courier-Gazette report, Finger Lakes Railway proposes round trips each day from Rockland to Brunswick with stops in Newcastle, Damariscotta, Wiscasset and Bath, with a potential stop in Waldoboro. From May through October, the plan, according to the report, is to have two daily round-trip trains on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Under the plan, self-propelled rail cars, which would each carry 80 people, would be used with the number of cars dependent on the number of passengers, according to the report.

No announcement has been made on when the service would start if the plan moved ahead, Courier-Gazette reports.

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