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Sierra Northern Railway and GTI have been awarded nearly $4 million by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build and test a hydrogen fuel-cell switching locomotive.
The locomotive will demonstrate the potential of hydrogen fuel-cell technology to reduce transportation air pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The funds will be used to retire a Tier 0 diesel locomotive and replace it with a zero-emission switching locomotive using advanced hydrogen technology. The project involves the integration of advanced hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen storage, advanced battery and systems control technologies to provide an alternative to diesel-powered locomotives, Sierra Northern officials said in a press release.
Short-line and switching locomotives account for a significant portion of freight in California and operate on the first and last miles of the national freight network. As a result, short-line operations make an excellent testbed for the demonstration of zero-emission technologies, they said.
"We believe this project will help lead the switching locomotive industry to an emissions-free pathway in all ports in the state of California," said Kennan Beard III, president of Sierra Northern Railway.
Sierra Northern Railway is the project's technical lead and partnered with GTI as the formal applicant to the CEC. Other technical partners include Railpower Tech LLC, Ballard Power Systems, Optifuel Systems LLC, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, Valley Vision, Velocity Strategies, Southern California Gas Co. and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
Sierra Northern Railway operates 75 miles of track in Northern California and interchanges with BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad.