Wabtec and Roy Hill Unveil FLXdrive Battery Locomotive

Wabtec and Roy Hill have unveiled the FLXdrive battery locomotive, which is the world’s first 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul freight locomotive for mainline service.

This vehicle was unveiled at Wabtec’s design and development centre in Pennsylvania for operation by Australian iron ore miner, Roy Hill, which is majority owned by Hancock Prospecting.

The pink livery symbolises Roy Hill's commitment to contributing to breast cancer research. To commemorate the FLXdrive’s premiere, Wabtec donated $50,000 to Linked By Pink
The pink livery symbolises Roy Hill’s commitment to contributing to breast cancer research. To commemorate the FLXdrive’s premiere, Wabtec donated $50,000 to Linked By Pink
Rafael Santana, President & CEO of Wabtec said:

“This FLXdrive locomotive represents a major step in the journey to a low-to-zero-emission future in the rail industry. The FLXdrive is driven from within by our battery technology and the innovative spirit of our employees. Roy Hill is an ideal customer to partner with given their leadership and excellent operational record.”

The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive will have an energy capacity of 7 MWh. Its use is expected to provide a double-digit percentage reduction in fuel costs and emissions per train.

Wabtec will now complete final battery installations and track testing before the locomotive completes a 17,000-kilometre journey to its home in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Gerhard Veldsman, Chief Executive Officer, Hancock Prospecting Group Operations said:

“The FLXdrive locomotive represents not only a first for the Pilbara, but a first for the mining industry. The technological smarts that have gone into the development of the loco makes it well suited for our rail network. By using regenerative braking, it will charge its battery on the 344-kilometre downhill run from our mine to port facility and use that stored energy to return to the mine, starting the cycle all over again. This will not only enable us to realise energy efficiencies but also lower operating costs.”

Currently, Roy Hill uses four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives to pull trains carrying more than 33,000 tonnes of iron ore. The addition of the FLXdrive will form a hybrid locomotive that can recharge during the trip using regenerative braking.

The FLXdrive will also manage the overall train energy flow and distribution using its energy management software.

What’s more, the locomotive features a unique battery thermal management system using liquid cooling to combat the Pilbara heat.

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