BNSF and Wabtec Test Battery-Electric Locomotive in California

BNSF and Wabtec have started testing a battery-electric locomotive in revenue service between Barstow and Stockton (350 miles), California to assess the viability of battery technology.

The battery-powered locomotive is located between two Tier 4 locomotives to create a battery-electric-diesel consist, meaning that in operation the train will be powered by both the battery-electric and the diesel locomotives.

By using the battery-electric locomotive to help power the train, BNSF believes the fuel efficiency of the complete train will be improved by a minimum of 10 percent. This is alongside a reduction in emissions. BNSF and Wabtec will run the pilot from January until the end of March 2021. If successful, BNSF aims to increase its tests of battery technology to other locations and operating conditions.

The locomotive’s lithium-ion batteries – 20 racks, consisting of around 20,000 battery cells – can be recharged either from regenerative braking energy or from the wayside charging facility in Stockton.