Rail technology company Wabtec has secured a contract to upgrade locomotives for Australia-based Fortescue Metals Group to boost the fleet’s operational efficiency and sustainability.

Under the contract, Wabtec will convert the fleet into AC44C6M locomotives to meet Fortescue’s performance needs.

Wabtec will rebuild the new AC44C6M locomotives at its facility in Texas. These units will be shipped to Western Australia over the coming two years for use in the mining operations of Fortescue.

The modernised locomotives will feature a UX engine and new electrical cabinets as well as a new design radiator and radiator cab.

It will also include an upgraded control system for the removal of obsolescence and AC traction with individual axle control.

Wabtec South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand senior regional vice president Wendy McMillan said: “While we have completed more than 1,000 modernisations for customers globally, it’s a first for Australia and demonstrates Fortescue’s commitment to drive more sustainable rail operations.”

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“By repurposing and rebuilding our locomotives, we give these heavy-haul trains another 20 years of life, while reducing the fuel consumption and maintenance, and repair and overhaul expenses by up to 20%.

“For Fortescue, the modernised trains will deliver up to a 55% increase in tractive effort and more than 40% increase in reliability.”

This year in April, Wabtec agreed to acquire Trimble’s Beena Vision business, which produces machine vision-based wayside inspection systems for the railroad sector.