World’s 1st Electric Train Trials in Barstow

wabtec train

wabtec train

BARSTOW —  FLXdrive, Wabtec’s new battery electric locomotive took a three-month trial on BNSF Railway’s 350-mile route between Barstow and Stockton earlier this year. The company unveiled the train at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and aims to help reduce carbon emissions.

Designed with 500 lithium-ion battery modules, trials runs of the train showed a decrease in fuel consumption by 11%. The 75 foot long train will assist in moving over 1.7bn tons of goods transported across American railroads each year. 

During the three-month pilot, the batteries were charged at a charging station in a railyard and through regenerative braking while hauling freight throughout the trip.

Even though rail only accounts for 0.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emission, the industry continues to strive to reduce its carbon footprint.

Wabtec has a long history of developing alternative power and fuel types for locomotives. In partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, Genesee and Wyoming (the largest owner of short line and regional freight railroads) the company proposed the creation of a Freight Rail Innovation Institute to accelerate the transition to a more widely used, efficient, and decarbonized freight rail transportation network.

Wabtec Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Gina Trombley says batteries are just one of the many alternative solutions Wabtec is exploring.

“The rail industry is on the cusp of technological advancements required to power locomotive fleets, with batteries, and eventually, hydrogen fuel cells. For each diesel-powered locomotive converted to alternative energy sources up to 3,000 tons of CO2 per year can be eliminated, which will be imperative to achieving a sustainable transportation network,” said Trombley.

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