Union Pacific Tests Viability of Battery-Electric Locomotives for Freight Operations

Union Pacific Railroad is set to buy 20 battery-electric locomotives from Progress Rail and Wabtec Corporation for testing in yard operations.

Locomotive manufacturers Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, and Wabtec Corporation will be supplying the battery-electric locomotives used in Union Pacific’s yard operations testing.
Locomotive manufacturers Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, and Wabtec Corporation will be supplying the battery-electric locomotives used in Union Pacific’s yard operations testing.

By working with the locomotive manufacturers during the test phase, the railroad hopes to advance battery-electric technology and evaluate its potential for long-haul service.

This purchase, along with upgrades to its yard infrastructure, is forecast to cost over 100 million USD (89.19m euros). This represents the largest investment by an American Class 1 railroad in battery-electric technology.

The first units are expected to arrive in late 2024. They will be delivered to rail yards in California and Nebraska, where they will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather.

This will help identify their capabilities and any challenges regarding broader deployment.

Union Pacific published its first comprehensive climate action plan last December, which outlined its efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within its operations.

As part of that commitment, it aims to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 26% by 2030 and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

For every 10 battery-electric locomotives the company uses, roughly 4,000 tons of carbon will be eliminated annually. This equates to removing 800 cars from the road.

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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