Progress Rail to Develop Battery-Powered Aurizon Freight Locomotive

Progress Rail to Develop Battery-Powered Aurizon Freight Locomotive

Aurizon, the Australian freight rail company, has signed a contract with Progress Rail to construct a battery-powered freight locomotive capable of zero-emissions in Australia. This groundbreaking project marks the first-ever battery-powered freight unit to be built in the country. The long-term vision is for the locomotive to operate solely on renewable energy sources, enabling emission-free freight hauls in the future.

Aurizon has partnered with Progress Rail, a part of the Caterpillar group, to retrofit one of its existing 4000-class diesel locomotives with batteries. This strategic move holds the potential to significantly reduce Australia’s transport emissions and revolutionize the country’s freight supply chains.

Aurizon stated that the prototype will be Australia’s first freight unit constructed with battery power, paving the way for potential future utilization of entirely renewable energy sources for freight hauls. The project will also investigate harnessing regenerative energy generated when trains brake or travel downhill to recharge the onboard batteries.

Andrew Harding, the Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer of Aurizon, emphasized that the project aligns with the company’s decarbonization objectives, aiming to achieve net-zero operational emissions by 2050. Mr. Harding expressed:

Andrew Harding, the Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer of Aurizon

“Freight locomotives powered by renewable energy sources have the capability to revolutionize the country’s freight supply chains, benefiting customers, communities, and the Australian economy. This transformation will not only result in a considerable reduction in our carbon footprint for freight transport and benefit the community at large, but it will also provide a significant competitive edge to Australian industries and exporters in global markets.”

“Enabling the delivery of top-notch Australian products for export through zero or low-carbon supply chains will prove to be a win-win situation for Australian companies and communities,” he said.

Progress Rail’s Redbank facility in south-east Queensland is currently constructing the train, which will be designed as a heavy-haul freight locomotive capable of operating across Aurizon’s national rail network.

To bring this project to fruition, Aurizon has engaged the University of Queensland and Central Queensland University to conduct modeling work and research on emerging battery technology, network infrastructure, and charging facilities. Their goal is to provide renewable electricity to the locomotive batteries.

The prototype is anticipated to incorporate battery technology similar to the one used in Progress Rail’s EMD Joule electric locomotive, known for its battery capacities of up to 14.5 MWh and a run time of up to 24 hours on a single charge.

Progress Rail has confirmed that the design phase and initial work on the retrofit have already begun at the Redbank facility. Construction of the locomotive is projected to be finalized by early 2023, and on-track trials are scheduled to commence in the first half of 2025.

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