Union Pacific Railroad has announced the purchase of 10 FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives from Wabtec Corporation. The purchase marks the largest number of FLXDrives placed in a single order for Wabtec and the largest investment in battery technology by a North American railroad.
The order will upgrade Union Pacific’s rail yard infrastructure and support its commitment to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“As an industry leader, Union Pacific is pioneering a major application of battery power in its rail yards,” said Rafael Santana, President, and CEO for Wabtec. “Battery power is an ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact and costs of yard operations. Using the FLXdrive in the rail yard can significantly improve local air quality, as well as reduce noise by up to 70% for neighboring communities.”
Founded in 1862, Union Pacific Railroad is a freight-hauling railroad that operates 8,300 locomotives over 32,200 miles routes in 23 of the Western United States, including Illinois and Louisiana. It considers battery-electric trains the most environmentally-friendly means to transport freight. The approximately 2.5-MWh locomotives are each powered solely by 7,000 battery cells, providing Union Pacific with a zero-emission solution for its yard operations.
According to the press release, the ten FLXdrives will enable the railroad to eliminate 4,000 tons of carbon annually from its rail yards, which is equivalent to removing 800 cars from the highway. The new electric locomotives will be manufactured in the United States, and the first units being delivered to Union Pacific in late 2023.
Union Pacific published its first comprehensive Climate Action Plan in December 2021, outlining its efforts to significantly reduce emissions within its operations. As part of that plan, Union Pacific will reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 26% by 2030 and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Earlier this month, Rio Tinto announced an order for four FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives to support suitable operations of the mining company’s rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.