AUSTRALIA’s Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) has successfully completed a trial with ZTR’s Kickstart technology, reporting improvements in battery performance.

The system was installed on a single SSR GT46Ace locomotive with the pilot project running from October 2020 to January 2021. ZTR was supported during the pilot by Australian consultant, Imtram.

Based on supercapacitors, Kickstart supplements locomotive batteries during engine start, resulting in less energy being drawn from the battery, extending battery life by up to three times according to ZTR. The system also cuts emissions by reducing the battery charging time required before shutdown and lessens disruptions to onboard systems by reducing the voltage drop across batteries during the locomotive starting cycle. 

Engineers monitored the trial via a data logger that has provided real-time accounts of location and all starting events that were Kickstart-assisted, as well as battery condition information, according to ZTR, which noted that “SSR has experienced zero starting issues” during the trial.

The technology remains in service with SSR and ZTR is now exploring opportunities to extend the rollout to more locomotives in the operator’s fleet as well as with other Australian operators. Kickstart is already in use on more than 1000 locomotives in North America.

SSR is a privately rail freight operator that hauls grain and coal and provides intermodal services across New South Wales and Victoria. The railway also offers equipment maintenance service and repairs.