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Union Pacific Railroad, a freight-hauling railroad in the US, has ordered ten FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives from Wabtec Corporation.

The move will upgrade Union Pacific’s rail yard infrastructure and advance its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operations.

Each FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive will feature 7,000 battery cells. All the vehicles will be produced in the US.

Together, the ten battery powered locomotives will have the capacity to offset 4,000t of carbon emissions annually from Union Pacific’s rail yards.

Wabtec is slated to deliver the first units to Union Pacific in late 2023.

Union Pacific chairman, president and CEO Lance Fritz said: “Railroads are already the leader in low emissions ground transportation, and we believe battery-electric locomotives are the next step in our journey to eventually reach net zero.

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“This first phase of testing will further enhance the technology, and, ultimately, benefit the entire industry.”

In December last year, Union Pacific unveiled its first Climate Action Plan, which focused on reducing carbon emissions within its operations.

Under the plan, Union Pacific set a target to reduce 26% of absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by the end of this decade and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Wabtec president and CEO Rafael Santana said: “Battery power is an ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact and costs of yard operations. Using the FLXdrive in the rail yard can significantly improve local air quality, as well as reduce noise by up to 70% for neighbouring communities.”  

In November last year, Canadian National Railway purchased FLXdrive battery-electric freight locomotives from Wabtec.