BHP subsidiary Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) has ordered two FLXdrive battery locomotives from Wabtec, with delivery planned for 2023.

The 7MW units, which are entirely battery-powered, are expected to reduce WAIO’s fuel costs and emissions by a double digit percentage per train due to the topography of the Pilbara - Port Hedland route on which they will operate.

Currently four diesel-electric locomotives in a consist are used to haul 38,000 tonne trains consisting of 270 iron-ore wagons. The FLXdrive units will be formed in the consist and will recharge during the journey through regenerative braking. Wabtec’s Trip Optimiser technology will be fitted to the locomotives and will determine the optimal times to discharge and recharge the batteries along the route to ensure the most fuel-efficient operation of the entire locomotive consist.

Wabtec is also constructing four FLXdrive locomotives for Rio Tinto and one for Roy Hill in Australia, as well as one unit for North American Class 1 Canadian National (CN). All six will be delivered in 2023.

The July 2021 edition of IRJ includes a detailed feature on Wabtec’s work on the FLXdrive battery locomotive project in California. Website subscribers can read the feature here.

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