KAZAKHSTAN: National railway KTZ and Wabtec have signed a memorandum of understanding for the production of 150 FLXdrive battery-electric shunting locomotives and the conversion of main line diesel locos to NextFuel liquid natural gas-power.

Wabtec is to undertake the work at the LKZ facility in Nur Sultan, with production to begin in 2024. The company said it would ‘revolutionise KTZ’s main line and yard operations’, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs.

The FLXdrive shunters will be 100% battery powered with a capacity of more than 1∙5 MWh. They are expected to reduce fuel cost of yard operations by approximately US$75 000 per shunter per year, as well as reducing scheduled maintenance by up to 97%.

‘Battery power is an ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact and costs of yard operations’, said Wabtec President & CEO Rafael Santana on September 20. ‘Using the FLXdrive in a rail yard can significantly improve local air quality and reduce noise for neighbouring communities. We are proud to partner with KTZ on this strategic investment.’

Wabtec will also provide NextFuel kits to convert main line diesel locomotives to LNG, increasing their range from 1 300 km to 3 000 km and cutting fuel costs by up to 26%.

Wabtec and KTZ also will collaborate on digital systems, starting with deployment of the Trip Optimizer tool for maximising fuel efficiency which is expected to reduce freight train fuel consumption by at least 5%. Pilot testing is planned for the fourth quarter of the year.