GE to build a battery-powered locomotive for BNSF use in California

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FORT WORTH, Texas — GE Transportation will build a battery-only powered locomotive as part of a California emission reduction grant to BNSF Railway.

Officials with the Fort Worth-based railroad announced on Thursday that California officials have tentatively awarded a $22.6-million Zero and Near Zero Emission Freight Facilities grant to BNSF.

“BNSF is focused on continuing to reduce our environmental impact, and we’re committed to doing our part to test and prove the commercial viability of emerging technologies that reduce emissions,” John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president, Environmental, says in a statement.

The grant will pay for about half of the projected $45 million in emission reduction work the railroad will engage in in California, including the new locomotive.

GE Transportation officials tell Trains that the locomotive will be built on the AC Evolution Series platform at the company’s Erie, Pa., facility. GE will also test the locomotive in Erie. The goal is to have the locomotive use an overall energy management system that enables it to generate 2,400 kilowatt-hours of power and reduce a freight train’s total fuel use by 10 to 15 percent, when used in combination with other Tier 4-compliant diesel-electric locomotives. The railroad expects to use the locomotive in consists between Barstow, Calif., and Stockton.

The locomotive itself will have only lithium ion batteries on board and no diesel engines. A GE representative says the locomotive will be charged at a wayside station at BNSF’s yard in Stockton, but that the locomotive can also take a charge in dynamic braking mode. It is expected to be delivered to BNSF later in 2020.

“Battery-powered or hybrid locomotives are promising technologies for the rail industry with the potential to reduce operating costs and emissions,” Dominique Malenfant, vice president, Global Technology, GE Transportation, says in a statement. “This project will give us tremendous insight into the capabilities of battery power and the best operational methods of leveraging the technology. It will accelerate the development of this cleaner, more efficient solution for the freight rail industry.”

Railroad officials say they’ll invest to improve existing technology in engine idle control, all-electric cranes, electric hostlers for moving freight, and automated gates at BNSF yards around the state. Additional upgrades will be done specifically to the intermodal terminals at San Bernadino, Calif., and Stockton.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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