Union Pacific Railroad invests $100m to buy battery locomotives for testing

They will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather in rail yards in California and Nebraska

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Union Pacific Railroad has announced plans to purchase 20 battery-electric locomotives for testing in yard operations from Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company and Wabtec Corporation.

They will be used in rail yards in California and Nebraska, where they will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather, helping identify the locomotives’ capabilities and challenges for broader deployment.

The first units are expected to arrive on site in late 2023, with delivery completed by late 2024.

The initiative supports Union Pacific’s ambition to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

For every 10 battery-electric locomotives used, around 4,000 tons of carbon are estimated to be eliminated annually – the equivalent of removing 800 cars from the road.

The combined purchases and upgrades to yard infrastructure are expected to exceed $100 million (£74.5m), which the company claims represents the largest investment in battery-electric technology by a US Class I railroad.

Lance Fritz, Chairman, President and CEO of Union Pacific said: “We’re committed to actions that reduce Union Pacific’s environmental footprint as we work toward our ultimate goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

“These investments will contribute to further developing this important technology and providing industry-wide benefits.”

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