US-based Wabtec has entered into a $600m memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) for the supply of 50 FLXdrivebattery-electric shunters.

The deal also covers modernisation work for the conversion of the mainline fleet into NextFuelliquid natural gas-powered (LNG) locomotives.

Claimed to be the largest sustainable technology agreement by the CIS railroad, the investment is expected to help transform KTZ’s mainline and yard operations and cut down greenhouse gas emissions and operating expenses significantly.

The 100% battery-driven FLXdrive shunters will offer over 1.5MW hours of energy.

Serving as a zero-emission solution for KTZ, the new shunters will allow the railroad to annually lower the fuel cost of its yard operations by around $75,000 per shunter.

Besides helping do away with costly electrification investments, the FLXdrives will also decrease scheduled maintenance by up to 97%z.

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Wabtec will supply NextFuel kits to transform the traditional diesel locomotives into liquefied natural gas (LNG) units.

NextFuel LNG mainline locomotives from Wabtec will boost the operational range of travel by over two-fold ranging from 1,300km to 3,000 km and reduce fuel costs by up to 26%.

Furthermore, Wabtec will deploy digital solutions on KTZ’s fleet.

Trip Optimiser is the first digital product that will offer fuel-efficient operation modes for freight trains to bring down fuel usage by up to 5%.

Wabtec is planning a pilot test of this digital product in the fourth quarter of this year. Based on the results, the digital solution will be implemented on KTZ locomotives.

Wabtec will produce the FLXdrives and convert the locomotives to LNG at the LKZ facility, which is located in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Production is expected to commence in 2024.

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 a rail yard can significantly improve local air quality and reduce noise for neighbouring communities. We are proud to partner with KTZ on this strategic investment.”