BNSF and Wabtec start battery-electric locomotive test

battery-electric locomotiveBNSF Railway Company and Wabtec signed a contract to start a battery-electric locomotive pilot test on the railway line between Barstow and Stockton, in California. The pilot test will run from January until the end of March. If the initial pilot proves successful, BNSF will look to expand testing to other locations and operating conditions on its system.

The battery-powered locomotive will be situated in a consist between two Tier 4 locomotives, creating a battery-electric hybrid vehicle. When running on the mainline, both the battery-electric and diesel locomotives will power the trains.

The battery-electric locomotive is expected to reduce the environmental impact from emissions along the route in an efficient manner, while improving the fuel economy by at least 10 percent.

The project builds on BNSF’s existing investments in sustainable technologies including idle control, electric wide-span cranes, battery-electric hostlers, automated gates at its intermodal facilities, and Tier 4 locomotives. BNSF partnered with Wabtec on the development of the battery-electric locomotive, which features an overall energy-management system, including onboard energy storage that, when coupled with advanced system-optimization controls, will improve consist and train performance.

“The FLXdrive is the world’s first 100-percent, heavy-haul battery-electric locomotive that optimises the total energy use of the entire locomotive consist,” Alan Hamilton, Wabtec vice president said.

The technology works like the electric vehicles using regenerative braking system.

The battery-electric locomotive pilot programme is part of a USD 22.6 million grant awarded to BNSF and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District from the Zero- and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) project by the California Air Resource Board to pilot several emissions-reducing technologies in and around railyards.

As BNSF seeks ways to further reduce its environmental impact, the advancement of battery technology offers some possible solutions.

“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,” John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president said.

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