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US-based Wabtec Corporation has signed a deal with MTR Corporation in Hong Kong to modernise 25 locomotives in their fleet. 

The order, valued at roughly £12m ($14.9m) will see Wabtec working on 25 Mk3 battery-electric locomotives that the company originally built in 1996 and 1997, bringing them more up-to-date with current expectations and thus improving their performance, reliability and service life by more than 15 years. 

Garry Mowbray, Wabtec’s group managing director and regional vice-president for the UK, said: “This order is a result of extensive collaboration with MTR to define a project that will maximize the capital investment in the fleet. 

“The tailored approach is designed to install the latest technologies where necessary to provide the greatest benefit to MTR’s fleet.” 

Mowbray described the project, to be led by Wabtec’s UK and Hong Kong teams, as an “innovative and lasting” solution to MTR’s plans to meet the growing demand by maximising the capabilities of its existing fleet. 

The modernisation project will be focussing on three key upgrades: updating the existing control electronics and motor alternator control units; installing a datalogger to provide diagnostic capabilities and building new automatic test equipment to ensure the electronic racks are suitable for different operating modes. 

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By GlobalData

Mr Kim-Hung Lee, acting chief of operations engineering maintenance for MTR, said: “With Wabtec’s extensive knowledge of this particular locomotive, I am confident that the project will be delivered on time and enhance the operational efficiency and performance of MTR locomotives.” 

The first delivery of the modernised locomotives is planned for 2024. 

MTR’s order is not the only current modernisation project for Wabtec, as the company received an enormous contract worth over $1bn to upgrade 600 locomotives for Union Pacific as part of the latter’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

A similar target is in place for MTR as the company aims to reach ‘science-based targets’ for 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality across all its operations by 2050.