Wabtec officially unveiled the newest version of what it calls “the world’s first battery-electric cargo train.”
The official unveiling comes days after Roy Hill purchased the first FLXdrive locomotive to support mining.
The electric train, known as FLXdrive Battery Locomotive, is no longer just a prototype after making its official debut in Pittsburgh, PA, following Wabtec’s first sale of the locomotive to Roy Hill earlier this week.
The official unveiling comes just days after Wabtec Corporation shared that Roy Hill, in Western Australia, purchased the first FLXdrive locomotive to support mining.
Wabtec anticipates Roy Hill will receive the newest version of its FLXdrive locomotive in 2023 with an energy capacity of 7 MWh, a huge improvement from the 2.4 MWh previously mentioned on the prototype.
As reported in June, Wabtec was in the midst of a pilot program in California with its FLXdrive — a battery-electric locomotive capable of hauling 430,000 pounds.
The battery-electric train was developed with a $22.6 million grant from the California Air Resource Board that was awarded to Wabtec, BNSF Railway, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The prototype locomotive delivered 22.5 tons of energy capacity (2.4 MWh) from over 20,000 lithium-ion battery cells. As a result, the FLX prototype could reach speeds around 75 mph, and travel 350 miles.
In addition to its pilot program, Wabtec also announced a collaboration with General Motors (GM) as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop and implement GM’s Ultium battery technology into Wabtec’s freight locomotives.
Energy capacity aside, the battery system on the new version of the electric train uses the kinetic energy of its own braking to recharge, allowing the vehicle to gain back range that would normally be lost as excess heat.
With one order on its books, Wabtec’s goal is to continue to develop the next generation of zero-emission locomotives while hoping that the global railway industry will all soon adapt.