BNSF Railway and Wabtec begin battery-electric locomotive pilot in California

BNSF Railway and Wabtec, a provider of equipment, systems and services for freight and transit rail, have collaborated to develop a battery-electric locomotive. Now they have begun testing the technology in revenue service between Barstow and Stockton, California.

The battery-powered locomotive will be situated in a consist [a sequence of locomotives and/or cars] between two Tier 4 locomotives, creating a hybrid consist. When running on the mainline, both the battery-electric and diesel locomotives will power the train.

The battery-electric locomotive is expected to improve the fuel economy for the entire consist by at least 10 percent. The pilot test will run from January until the end of March, and if it proves successful, BNSF will expand testing to other locations and operating conditions on its system.

BNSF partnered with Wabtec on the development of the battery-electric locomotive, which features an overall energy-management system, including onboard energy storage and system-optimization controls designed to improve consist and train performance.

“The FLXdrive is the world’s first 100-percent, heavy-haul battery-electric locomotive that optimizes the total energy utilization of the entire locomotive consist,” said Alan Hamilton, Wabtec VP, Engineering. “This technology works in a manner very similar to how electric vehicles use regenerative braking.”

“We’ve got everything in place and we’re ready to see how this next-generation locomotive performs in revenue service,” said John Lovenburg, BNSF VP, Environmental. “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.”

Source: BNSF