EMD locomotive.

ENGINE: An agreement to develop natural gas-powered locomotives has been signed by gas specialist Westport Innovations and Caterpillar, which will fund the programme.

The locomotive technology is to be developed by Caterpillar's Electro-Motive Diesel business, using Westport's high-pressure direct injection technology. In December 2011 the companies had announced plans to use a Canadian National locomotive as a demonstrator.

Commercial production is expected in around five years.

'This is a significant opportunity that has the potential to transform important segments of the global off-road equipment industries', said Westport CEO David Demers on June 5. 'The substantial price difference between natural gas and diesel fuel is resulting in a strong financial incentive to enable off-road applications to take advantage of low natural gas energy costs without sacrificing operational performance. There is also a clear environmental incentive because of the reduced carbon emissions.'