Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive (2)

AUSTRALIA: Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

The battery will be recharged using regenerative braking, and the FLXdrive will manage overall train energy flow and distribution using Wabtec’s Trip Optimizer intelligent cruise control system. A liquid cooling system will be specially designed to withstand Pilbara conditions where temperatures can reach 55°C.

‘Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network’, said Simon Pascoe, General Manager of Engineering at Roy Hill, on September 13. ‘It has the horsepower to operate in a heavy haul train consist pulling loaded wagons with 35 000 tonnes of iron ore, while at the same time reducing the entire train’s fuel consumption.’

Pointing out that the FLXdrive locomotive would be ‘the first for the region and the first for the mining industry’, Roy Hill CEO Gerhard Veldsman added that the company was ‘committed to transforming the next generation of transportation by adopting advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency, lower operating costs and improve our rail and mining network’.