USA: Chicago commuter operator Metra is to issue a request for proposals for the conversion of three EMD F40PH-3 diesel locomotives to zero-emission battery power. It hopes to award a contract this autumn, with the first loco to be delivered around 30 months later.
Metra estimates that converting three older diesel locomotives to battery traction would reduce NOx emissions by more than 90 tonnes per year and particulate emissions by more than 2 tonnes per year, improving air quality for passengers and the region.
The zero-emission locomotives must be fully compatible with its existing coaches and diesel locomotives, and capable of operating on any Metra line, powering push-pull trains from two to 11 coaches at speeds up to 130 km/h.
The Rock Island Line’s Beverly Branch is envisaged as a likely candidate for the first deployment, because the short route would enable a battery-powered train to make several trips before being recharged.
‘This proposal could be game-changing’, said Metra Executive Director & CEO Jim Derwinski when the board approved the RFP on April 21. ‘We have been monitoring the development of this technology for several years and believe the time is right to work with the industry and set a path for a brighter and cleaner future.’
Metra is also seeking to purchase six Environmental Protection Agency Tier IV emssions standard compliant shunting locomotives, and one zero-emission electric shunting locomotive.
Next year the operator is scheduled to begin taking delivery of 15 EMD SD70MAC freight locos remanufactured by Progress Rail to meet EPA’s Tier 3 emissions standards. These are intended to replace some of its existing Tier 0 locomotives, and Metra has an option to buy up to 27 more.