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Wabtec and BNSF Railway Company are jointly testing the operation of a battery-powered locomotive

Wabtec and BNSF Railway Company are jointly testing the operation of a battery-powered locomotive
photo: locomotive
11 / 01 / 2021

Wabtec and BNSF Railway Company recently have signed a contract and now they are jointly launching a prototype of a battery-powered locomotive. The pilot run is planned from January to March in service between Stockton and Barstow, California, USA. If the results of the pilot run will meet the expectations, BNSF will extend the testing project to other destinations with different operating conditions.

An innovative battery-powered locomotive should be placed between two Tier 4 trains. This will create an electric hybrid vehicle. When operating on the mainline, the train will be powered by a battery-electric and diesel locomotive.

An electrically powered locomotive should have a major impact on reducing the production of emissions. Fuel consumption should also drop by up to 10 % on this test train.

BNSF Railway Company has long invested in sustainable technologies. This is what has become the cornerstone of this project focusing on the overall energy management system. The project should also solve the problem of on-board energy storage. This should improve system performance by combining with advanced system optimization controls.

"The FLXdrive is the world's first 100-percent, the heavy-haul battery-electric locomotive that optimizes the total energy use of the entire locomotive consist," Alan Hamilton, Wabtec vice president said to the media.

The locomotive technology is based on the same principle as electric vehicle propulsion. It also uses a regenerative braking system.

“We’ve got everything in place and we’re ready to see how this next-generation locomotive performs in revenue service. BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and assess the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions, ”said John Lovenburg, the BNSF vice president.

This pilot and the revolutionary battery-powered locomotive project is funded by a $ 22.6 million grant. The grant was awarded by the BNSF Railway Company and the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District under the ZANZEFF (California - Zero-Emission Freight Facilities) (ZANZEFF) project.