CANADA: Ballard Power Systems is to supply the fuel cells for Canadian Pacific’s hydrogen locomotive programme, which aims to develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered main line freight locomotive by retrofitting fuel cells and a battery storage system to an existing diesel loco.


Ballard will deliver six 200 kW fuel cell modules during 2021. These will trickle-charge the battery pack, which will then power the existing traction motors. Ballard will also provide support for the integration of the traction package into the locomotive.

Once the prototype locomotive is operational, CP plans to undertake qualification testing and revenue service trials to evaluate the readiness of fuel cell technology for the rail freight sector.

‘With this purchase from Ballard, a leader in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, CP further demonstrates its commitment to developing the next generation of locomotive – one that produces zero emissions’, explained CP President & CEO Keith Creel on March 9.

‘How we power our trains matters to our customers, employees, shareholders and to the communities we operate in. This technology holds the possibility of eliminating emissions from freight train operations, which already represent the most efficient method of moving goods over land.’

Ballard President & CEO Randy MacEwen said he was ‘excited’ to be working with CP. ‘In addition to Ballard’s work focused on powering commuter trains in Europe and urban trams in China, CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program in North America underscores the strong fit for zero-emission fuel cells to power heavy- and medium-duty motive applications, including trains, for which it is otherwise difficult to abate emissions.’