In recent years, hydrogen trains have been stealing the headlines in the pursuit of a greener train network. However, much akin to their automotive cousins, battery powered locomotives have also been in development.
On 31st October, Wabtec and Roy Hill unveiled the FLXdrive battery locomotive in Erie, US. This 100% battery powered locomotive features an energy capacity of 7 MWh, and is designed to supplement the diesel-electric locomotives already used for pulling iron ore through the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Its use is expected to provide a double-digit percentage reduction in fuel costs and emissions per train.
These trains are some of the longest in the world, and can be typically 2,700m (1.6 miles) long, each carrying 33,000 tonnes of iron ore. The energy usage per train is thus naturally substantial, so these energy savings will be truly beneficial.
Painted in their distinctive pink livery, these trains recognise the owners' commitment to breast cancer research, and at the launch, Wabtec donated $50,000 to Linked By Pink - a non-profit organisation consisting of Erie area survivors who were diagnosed with breast cancer before they were 45.
Before the locomotive can commence operations, it has a long journey to complete - it will be traveling 10,500 miles to Western Australia in 2024. However, once there it will enjoy the benefits of it regenerative braking system as its final place of business includes a 344km downhill run from the mine to the port, thus allowing it to recharge that huge battery for the return journey.
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