Roy Hill Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive (Photo: Wabtec)

AUSTRALIA: A FLXdrive battery-powered heavy haul locomotive for iron ore mining company Roy Hill has been unveiled at Wabtec’s factory at Erie in the USA.

‘This FLXdrive locomotive represents a major step in the journey to a low-to-zero-emission future’, said Wabtec President & CEO Rafael Santana at the event on October 31. ‘Roy Hill is an ideal customer to partner with given their leadership and excellent operational record.’

Roy Hill currently uses four Wabtec ES44ACi diesel-electric locomotives to haul 2·7 km long trains carrying more than 33 000 tonnes of iron ore on its 344 km mine to port line in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Roy Hill Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive (Photo Wabtec) (17)

The 7 MWh battery capacity FLXdrive will replace one locomotive to enable hybrid operation, which is expected to provide a double-digit percentage reduction in fuel costs and emissions.

The battery will be charged using regenerative braking on the downhill loaded run to the port, with the stored energy used to help power the empty train on the return trip to the mine.

Roy Hill Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive (Photo Wabtec) (2)

The FLXdrive’s energy management software will manage the overall train energy flow and distribution. The battery thermal management system will use liquid cooling to withstand the ambient temperatures which can exceed 55°C.

Roy Hill Wabtec FLXdrive battery locomotive (Photo Wabtec) (10)

The pink livery symbolises Roy Hill’s backing for breast cancer research and support.

‘The FLXdrive locomotive represents not only a first for the Pilbara, but a first for the mining industry’, said Gerhard Veldsman, CEO of Roy Hill’s parent company Hancock Prospecting Group Operations. ‘The technological smarts that have gone into the development of the loco make it well suited for our rail network.’

Once battery installation and track testing are completed the loco is to be shipped to Australia in 2024.