The Anonymous Widower

Joule Battery Loco Unveiled Ahead Of Trial

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

These three paragraphs outline the trial and the locomotive.

Pacific Harbor Line has unveiled a Progress Rail EMD SD40JR Joule battery electric locomotive ahead of a one-year trial.

Anacostia Rail Holdings subsidiary PHL provides shunting services and dispatches all BNSF and Union Pacific trains within the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It currently operates a fleet of EPA Tier 3 Plus and Tier 4 locomotives using 100% renewable diesel fuel.

The 3·2 MW six-axle SD40JR locomotive was rebuilt from a SD40-2. It has a lithium-ion battery, AC traction motors and individual axle control. It is charged using an EMD Joule Charging Station, and features regenerative braking.

I have some thoughts and more information.

Pacific Harbor Line – PHL

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the area in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where it will be working.


Los Angeles is to the West and Long Beach is to the East.

Most of the lines in brown are rail tracks, where PHL moves containers between ships and trains that bring them to and from the ports.

The Union Pacific Intermodal Container Transfer Facility is at the North of the map.

It is a very comprehensive system.

The Pacific Harbor Line web site  gives more details and starts with this paragraph.

Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. (PHL) provides rail transportation, maintenance and dispatching services to both Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which together form top intermodal gateways in the United States. Through its inception, PHL’s mission has been to offer neutral services to all its business partners: two ports, two Class I railroads, nine intermodal terminals and numerous carload customers. PHL connects with BNSF and UP.

It then gives these details.

  • Location: Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles
  • Employees: 189
  • Railroad Mileage: 19 route miles, 96 track miles
  • Port Facility Served: Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach
  • Connecting Railroads: BNSF and UP
  • Sustainability: Contact Pacific Harbor Line to discover the low carbon solutions we can provide for your freight needs.
  • Number of Customers: 9 on-dock marine terminals, more than 30 carload customers

Later the web site states that PHL is proud of its role as an industry leader for environmental sustainability and as owner of the greenest locomotive fleet in the country.

The new locomotive would appear to fit fit that philosophy.

Progress Rail EMD SD40JR Joule Battery Electric Locomotive

This page on the Progress Rail web site gives more details of their Joule battery electric locomotives.

  • The SD40JR locomotive has a power output of 2.1 MW and a 4 MWh battery.
  • For comparison, a Class 66 locomotive, of which there are 480 in the UK, has a power output of 1.85 MW at the rail.
  • Strangely, the UK locomotive is 1.7 metres longer.

As both locomotive classes were originally built by EMD, I do wonder how similar the components of the two locomotives are.

Would A Battery Electric Class 66 Locomotive Be Any Use?

If we assume that conversion of a Class 66 locomotive to battery power is possible would it find uses in the UK?

I am fairly certain, if you live in any of the villages on the Felixstowe branch line, you will sometimes get annoyed, at the streams of Class 66 locomotives passing with long freight trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

I have just looked at the 11:13 freight train from Felixstowe North to Trafford Park.

  • It leaves Felixstowe North hauled by a Class 66 locomotive.
  • Felixstowe North to Ipswich takes just 35 minutes.
  • At Ipswich, the motive power is changed to an electric locomotive, which is probably a Class 90 locomotive.
  • The train then uses an all-electric route to Trafford, where it arrives at 23:39.

A rough calculation based on the time running on electric, shows that the current hybrid method of operation, saves 95.3% of the carbon emissions compared to an all-diesel trip.

It would be carbon-free, if a battery-electric Class 66 locomotive could be developed. with sufficient range.

So that’s one application!

There must be other applications, where a battery can supply enough power for the journey.


Given the number of Class 66 locomotives to decarbonise or replace, a fleet of battery electric Class 66 locomotives could be a good start.

May 18, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,

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