The grant will cover half the cost of the $US 45m project, which is also being funded by BNSF and other commercial partners.

BNSF will work with GE Transportation to design, build and test an ac traction Evolution Series locomotive featuring an overall energy management system, which includes onboard energy storage.

The locomotive will generate 2400kWh of battery power and according to BNSF could reduce fuel consumption by 10-15%.

The unit will be paired with a standard diesel locomotive for trials on the Stockton - Barstow line, which will take place in 2020.

“Battery-powered or hybrid locomotives are promising technologies for the rail industry with the potential to reduce operating costs and emissions,” says Mr Dominique Malenfant, vice president, global technology for GE Transportation. “This project will give us tremendous insight into the capabilities of battery power and the best operational methods of leveraging the technology. It will accelerate the development of this cleaner, more efficient solution for the rail freight industry.”

Alongside the battery-electric locomotive, BNSF will also trial hybrid Mi-Jack rubber-tyred gantry cranes at intermodal terminals in Stockton and San Bernadino as well as an all electric container side-loader and an electric drayage truck.