Wabtec Touts Battery Operated Locomotive

The Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive has been sent back to the company’s locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, after completing tests on BNSF.

Wabtec officials said the testing, conducted largely in Southern California, had the prototype work for more than 13,000 miles.

They said test results were encouraging. Wabtec CEO Rafael Santana said the locomotive “was able to reduce both fuel consumption and emissions by more than 11 percent.”

Calling that a “game-changer in decarbonizing rail,” Santana said his company continues to see growing interest in next generation motive power and that battery-electric will be part of his company’s long-term growth.

Wabtec officials said they are having “some strong discussions with customers.”

A number of railroads, including Class 1 systems Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, have begun studying motive power that does not use diesel fuel.

CP is developing a hydrogen fuel-cell locomotive and CN has been examining various options.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas said the Wabtec battery prototype met expectations for efficiency performance and confirmed the potential of this technology.

More detailed reports on the locomotive’s performance are expected to be released in the coming months.

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