UNION Pacific (UP) has placed an order for 10 FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives with Wabtec, and an order for 10 battery locomotives with Progress Rail. Deliveries are expected to commence in late-2023 and continue to late-2024.

The locomotives will be used in rail yards in California and Nebraska, where they will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather. This will help to identify the locomotives' capabilities and challengers for broader deployment. UP says that investment in the locomotives and yard infrastructure is expected to exceed $100m.

This is the largest order Wabtec has received for the battery locomotives, and follows similar orders from Australian mining companies in recent weeks as well as other North American Class 1s.

The 2.5MW FLXdrive locomotives will be powered by 7000 battery cells and will be used in UP’s yard. The Class 1 says the introduction of these shunting units will allow it to eliminate 8000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

“Railroads are already the leader in low emissions ground transportation, and we believe battery-electric locomotives are the next step in our journey to eventually reach net zero,” says Mr Lance Fritz, chairman, president and CEO of UP.

Wabtec is also constructing four FLXdrive locomotives for Rio Tinto, two for BHP subsidiary Western Australia Iron Ore and one for Roy Hill in Australia, as well as one unit for North American Class 1 Canadian National (CN). All eight will be delivered in 2023. Wabtec also engaged in line trials with a FLXdrive battery unit as part of a trial with BNSF in California.

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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