Union Pacific Partners with ZTR to Build Hybrid-Electric Locomotives

Union Pacific Railroad is partnering with ZTR to build hybrid-electric locomotives for yard operations.

The locomotives will be built at Union Pacific’s North Little Rock facility in Arkansas with the first prototype expected to be delivered in late 2023. Five additional units will then arrive in 2024.

Union Pacific Hybrid Locomotives
The new locomotives will be used chiefly for yard operations

The locomotives will be able to operate in single-engine, battery-charging or electric-only modes. In addition, their batteries will be compatible with both wayside and onboard charging.

Union Pacific’s Senior Vice President of Engineering and Mechanical Shane Keller said:

“Adding hybrid-electric locomotives to our fleet is another important step for Union Pacific as we work to explore ‘drop-in’ technologies that modify current systems and reduce our carbon footprint. This pilot will help make our fleet more fuel efficient and further advance our commitment to reaching our sustainability goals, while testing the technology’s capability for expanded use across our locomotive fleet.”

The new locomotives will be produced as mother-slug sets where two locomotives are replaced with one diesel locomotive connected to an accessory or slug. The engineless slug will increase the traction motors available to the locomotive to boost its pulling and braking power for yard operations.

The slug unit will be equipped with batteries, power electronics and controls supplied by ZTR. This will allow the hybrid-electric mother-slug to operate in single engine, battery charging or electric-only modes.

ZTR Control Systems President Derek Shipley said:

“ZTR is proud of our long-standing relationship with Union Pacific and excited to partner with them on this hybrid-electric locomotive development. This investment aligns well with our ongoing goal to leverage ZTR’s technical expertise to support railways in their decarbonisation and efficiency improvement efforts. This initial hybrid-electric mother-slug application will be the basis of our design for future hybrid-electric, long-haul and fully electric solutions.”

Earlier this year, Union Pacific also announced an agreement with Wabtec Corporation to modernise 600 locomotives. These improvements will increase fuel efficiency by up to 18 percent in order to further reduce the company’s emissions.

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