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Union Pacific Railroad last week announced plans to assemble the world’s largest battery electric freight locomotive fleet.
UP will purchase 20 battery-electric locomotives from Progress Rail and Wabtec Corp. for testing in yard operations. The combined purchases and upgrades to yard infrastructure are expected to exceed $100 million, representing the largest investment in battery-electric technology by a U.S. railroad, UP officials said in a press release.
President Joe Biden shared UP's announcement during a Jan. 28 speech in Pennsylvania.
"We’re committed to actions that reduce Union Pacific’s environmental footprint as we work toward our ultimate goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050," said UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz. "These investments will contribute to further developing this important technology and providing industry-wide benefits."
UP officials anticipate the first units to arrive on site in late 2023, with complete delivery by late 2024. The locomotives will be used in yards in California and Nebraska, where they will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather, helping identify the locomotives’ capabilities and challenges for broader deployment.
Battery-electric locomotives do not use fuel and emit zero emissions.
The purchase includes 10 FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives from Wabtec. The approximately 2.5-MWh locomotives are each powered solely by 7,000 battery cells, providing UP a zero-emission solution for its yard operations. The FLXdrives will enable the railroad to eliminate 4,000 tons of carbon annually from its rail yards, the equivalent of removing 800 cars from the highway, UP officials said.
The 10 EMD Joule locomotives the Class I will purchase from Progress Rail will be manufactured in Muncie, Indiana, Progress Rail officials said in a press release.
The Class I is collaborating with community partners on its environmental goals. The Port of Los Angeles, which recently received a Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, awarded UP a sub-award that will partially cover the cost of one battery-electric locomotive.