Chicago Metra to Create Battery-Powered Locomotives

Chicago’s rail operator Metra has signed a contract with Progress Rail to convert up to six diesel locomotives to battery power.

The contract includes a base order of three locomotives with options for an additional three in the future. The base order is expected to take approximately 3.5 years and will be completed in Patterson, Georgia.

The total cost for converting all six locomotives would be 34.6 million USD.

The locomotives may be painted in a green version of Metra’s paint scheme to indicate the battery technology

Metra plans to test the converted locomotives on the Rock Island Line.

Charging stations will be placed in the main yard and at an outlying point. The locomotives are expected to have a range of about 150 miles.

Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said:

“This procurement puts Metra on the cutting edge of battery-powered technology and demonstrates our commitment to innovation and cleaner energy. If these locomotives prove themselves, they could play a significant role in our fleet and in our future, and the concept could serve as a template for other railroads to follow.”

By converting its diesel locomotives to battery power, Metra will significantly reduce its emissions and improve local air quality.

Metra also anticipates that the battery-powered vehicles will be quieter and will have lower operating and maintenance costs than its diesel locomotives.

The battery-powered locomotives will be fully compatible with Metra’s existing railcars and diesel locomotives. They must be capable of providing a safe and comfortable ride at speeds up to 79 mph.

In addition, the batteries must power the onboard systems, such as lighting, intercoms and HVAC.

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