Canadian Pacific (CP), a transcontinental railway in Canada and the US, has announced its plans to develop North America’s first line-haul hydrogen-powered locomotive.

CP stated that almost the complete freight locomotive fleet of all railway operators  in the region are powered by diesel, which causes heavy greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of a pilot project, it will retrofit a line-haul train with battery technology and hydrogen fuel cells, which will power the train’s electric traction motors.

Once operational, qualification testing and rail service trials will be conducted by CP to assess the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail segment.

CP president and CEO Keith Creel said: “This is a globally significant project that positions CP at the leading edge of decarbonising the freight transportation sector. CP will continue to focus on finding innovative solutions to transform our operations and adapt our business, positioning CP and our industry as leaders for a sustainable future.”

CP said that the new hydrogen locomotive programme will build on its past experience with testing low-emitting locomotive technologies, including compressed natural gas, battery-powered solutions and biofuels.

In October, CP signed an agreement to buy complete ownership of the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership.

This partnership owns the immersed tube tunnel that runs for 2.6km and links Windsor in Canada with Detroit in the US.

At present, CP has a 16.5% stake in the partnership, with the remaining stake held by Ontario municipal employees’ pension investor OMERS.

Since 1990, CP has enhanced its locomotive fuel efficiency by over 40% with the help of technology dispositions and a variety of programmes.