Wabtec unveils heavy-haul battery-electric locomotive FLXdrive

US-based company Wabtec has unveiled a heavy-haul battery-electric locomotive called FLXdrive amid increasing efforts to decarbonise railway transportation.

The move comes after FLXdrive completed a three-month pilot in California earlier this year.

During the pilot, the battery-electric locomotive covered more than 13,000 miles of track operating at 2.4MW/h.

It reduced overall fuel consumption by more than 11%, trimming carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 69 tonnes.

The second generation of the FLXdrive locomotive is currently under development. This train will operate at more than 7MW/h and will reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%.

As part of its sustainability efforts, Wabtec has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Carnegie Mellon University to create technologies that will help in decarbonising freight rail transportation and enhancing safety.

The company also entered a MoU with short line railroad holding company Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) to develop zero-emission battery and hydrogen freight strategies.

Wabtec, along with Carnegie Mellon University and G&W, intends to build the Freight Rail Innovation Institute. This institute will be engaged in developing zero-emission locomotives and technologies to increase freight rail utilisation and safety.

Wabtec president and CEO Rafael Santana said: “This partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and Genesee & Wyoming further strengthens our efforts to decarbonise global rail transportation and will significantly increase freight rail utilisation, efficiency, and safety throughout the rail network.

“The transportation sector is at a critical inflection point. With technologies providing increased battery and hydrogen power capacity, we have the potential to eliminate up to 120 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year in North America.”

Earlier this year, Wabtec signed a non-binding MoU with General Motors (GM) to work on achieving a zero-emissions future in rail transportation.

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