In July, Wabtec (NYSE: WAB) announced that its FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive delivered an 11 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in a three-month pilot with BNSF Railway.
Now Wabtec has made a sale to Australian mine operator Roy Hill, to be delivered in 2023. The company will receive the newest version of the FLXdrive locomotive, which features an energy capacity of 7 MWh—an upgrade from the 2.4 MWh prototype that was tested in revenue service earlier this year.
Based on the route, Roy Hill anticipates that the FLXdrive loco will reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions by double-digit percentages per train, as well as delivering substantial savings on maintenance costs.
Today, Roy Hill uses four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives in a consist (a sequence of rail vehicles) to pull trains that are typically 2,700 meters (1.6 miles) in length. The FLXdrive will replace one of the diesel locomotives to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking.
“The FLXdrive manages the overall train energy flow and distribution through its Trip Optimizer system, an intelligent cruise control system programmed through artificial intelligence to respond to every curve and grade of the track in the most energy-efficient way possible,” says Wabtec. “It is also designed with a special liquid cooling system to withstand the Pilbara heat, where temperatures can reach 130° F.”
“We are committed to transforming the next generation of transportation by adopting advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency, lower operating costs and improve our rail and mining network,” said Gerhard Veldsman, CEO of Roy Hill. “The FLXdrive locomotive will be the first for the region and the first for the mining industry, and will improve our rail operations from the mine to Port Hedland.”
“Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network,” said Simon Pascoe, General Manager of Engineering for Roy Hill. “It has the horsepower to operate in a heavy-haul train consist pulling loaded wagons with 35,000 tonnes of iron ore, while at the same time reducing the entire train’s fuel consumption.”
“The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a bold step toward a low-to-zero-emission locomotive future,” said Rogerio Mendonca, President of Freight Equipment for Wabtec. “We continue working on solutions that cut the overall carbon footprint of the industries we serve through the development of low-emitting locomotives like the FLXdrive, and the use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesel, renewable diesel and hydrogen.”