The Anonymous Widower

Canadian National Buys Battery Locomotive

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

Canadian National’s Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad has purchased a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric freight locomotive, with financial support from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Marine & Rail Freight Movers grant programme.

The locomotive is intended to work in multiple with diesel locomotives and this cuts fuel consumption, pollution and noise.

I described the locomotive in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh and the more I learn about this locomotive the more I like it.

The locomotive numbered 3000, which appears in all Wabtec pictures is an example an ES44AC from the GE Evolution Series and was converted from a standard locomotive, that was in the test fleet.

Interestingly, Canadian National own several hundred of these locomotives, so they won’t be short of one to convert.

The diesel version would appear to be a 3.3 MW diesel locomotive.

In addition, this page on the Wabtec web site gives some details of the battery-electric locomotive.

  • The locomotive is powered by lithium-ion batteries.
  • There are around 20,000 battery cells
  • The batteries have their own air-conditioning
  • There is a sophisticated battery-management system.
  • The total battery size is 2.4 MWh
  • Power output is 4400 HP or 3.24 MW
  • Locomotive will run for 30-40 minutes at full power.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking.
  • Operating speed is 75 mph

Note that running at 75 mph for 40 minutes would cover fifty miles.

It does look as if, the diesel-electric and the battery-electric conversion have similar power outputs. Could this be, as the traction system on both locomotives are identical? It’s just that one uses a diesel generator and the other uses batteries.

Although there must be differences in the traction systems, as the battery-electric locomotive has regenerative braking.

The battery-electric locomotive is designed to work in conjunction with one or two diesel locomotives, where a sophisticated computer system decides which engines power the train.

  • Wabtec are claiming a thirty percent reduction in fuel and emissions compared to an all-diesel setup.
  • Electric power will also be used in depots and sensitive areas.

I do think though, that this is a pragmatic solution to cut the carbon footprint of heavy-freight in North America.

But it could be a half-way solution, as Wabtec have hinted that they are working on hydrogen-powered locomotives.

I also feel it might be possible to convert some of the UK’s Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives for lighter freight duties or working in a pair with a Class 66 locomotive to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

I discuss this in Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?

Have CN Bought The Prototype?

There is also this article on the Green Car Congress, which is entitled CN Purchases Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive.

The article seems fairly certain they have.

So perhaps, they want to get on with the job and see what the locomotive can do?

November 5, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Silly typo

    running at 75 mph for 40 miles would cover fifty miles.

    Presumably should be

    running at 75 mph for 40 minutes would cover fifty miles.

    Comment by MilesT | November 5, 2021 | Reply


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