BNSF  is a company that’s partnering with a series of electrical suppliers to begin testing on a series of battery-powered electric locomotives with high horsepower. BNSF unlike other railroads has tested a series of low horsepower battery electric locomotives in rail yards for years but it’s one of the first it’s going to be switching over to these trains in real applications.

Most of the battery-powered locomotives that have been under testing were designed for switching over freight cars. New inclusions in battery technology today have ensured that these batteries are easier to power than ever before and manufacturers are working to improve battery quality, technology and reliability. Road locomotives now have the ability to receive power from this technology while still maintaining the high horsepower yields that are required.

BNSF partnered with Wabtec which is formally GE transportation and they began to produce a 100% battery electric Road locomotive prototype that works in the same format as a conventional diesel locomotive. The battery hybrid electric trains draw power from the rail and then operate under high horsepower with a battery power as required.

Various countries are looking closely at this project and it’s being supported by a grant from California air resources as part of a near zero emission freight facilities program. Once the system has been fully integrated, the locomotive will deliver ongoing fuel savings for the entire line as well as shut down a series of idle locomotives that produce emissions. The benefits to noise and carbon emission reduction will be significant if BNSF is able to ramp up its production and prove these in the field.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Swartz Engineering. For nearly a half a century, Swartz Engineering has been at the forefront of industry safety. They are a family-owned company specializing in power distribution for the electrical industry. They are the leading manufacturer of E house substations. Our design ensures maximum flexibility for excellent reliability and a high return on investment.