Australia: Progress Rail to Build Battery-Powered Aurizon Freight Locomotive

Australian freight rail company, Aurizon has contracted Progress Rail to build a zero-emissions capable battery-powered freight locomotive in Australia.

This will be the first battery-powered freight unit to be constructed in Australia. In the future, it is hoped that it will operate using entirely renewable energy sources, thus enabling freight hauls that don’t produce operational emissions.

The design phase and preliminary work on the retrofit has commenced at Redbank, Australia
The design phase and preliminary work on the retrofit has commenced at Redbank, Australia

The heavy-haul freight locomotive prototype is being built at Progress Rail’s Redbank facility in south-east Queensland.

Here, Progress Rail will retrofit one of Aurizon’s existing 4000-class diesel locomotives with battery technology.

Aurizon currently operates more than 120 4000-class locomotives in its national fleet, so a successful battery conversion would lay the foundation for a faster, less expensive decarbonisation plan compared to purchasing new locomotives.

Aurizon Managing Director & CEO Andrew Harding said:

“Modern freight locomotives using renewable energy sources have the potential to transform the nation’s freight supply chains for customers, communities and the Australian economy. Not only will this dramatically reduce the carbon footprint for our freight transport needs and the community in general, but it will also provide a significant competitive advantage for Australian industries and exporters in global markets.”

To realise this project, Aurizon has also commissioned the University of Queensland and Central Queensland University to undertake modelling work and research on emerging battery technology, network infrastructure and charging facilities to provide renewable electricity to the locomotive batteries.

Construction of the locomotive is expected to be complete by early 2025, with on-track trials commencing in the first half of 2025.

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