CN purchases battery-powered electric freight locomotive from Wabtec to support sustainability goals


The Canadian National Railway Company (CN) has announced the purchase of the Wabtec FLXdrive battery electric freight locomotive, the first to join its 19,500 mile rail network. The purchase was part of CN’s sustainability strategy to reduce emissions from freight transportation and will be supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

CN ($ CNI) has been a railway company in operation since 1919, safely transporting more than 300 million tonnes of natural resources, products and finished goods across North America each year.

The company is currently the most fuel efficient railway in North America, using approximately 15% less locomotive fuel per gross ton mile than the industry average.

These focused efforts to reduce emissions made CN one of only three Canadian companies on CDP’s Climate A list. With sustainable freight transportation in mind, it’s no wonder CN turned to Wabtec for help.

Wabtec Corporation ($ WAB) is a manufacturer and transportation company with over 150 years of experience. Last June, we covered a pilot program in California with its FLXdrive – a battery-powered electric freight locomotive weighing up to 430,000 pounds.

The prototype locomotive provided 22.5 tonnes of power capacity (2.4 MWh) from more than 20,000 lithium-ion battery cells. As a result, the FLX prototype could reach speeds of around 75 mph and travel 350 miles.

In addition to its pilot program, Wabtec also announced a collaboration with General Motors to develop and implement GM’s Ultium battery technology in its electric freight locomotives.

In September, Wabtec announced that its first FLXdrive electric freight locomotive had been sold to Roy Hill in Australia. With CN’s latest announcement, he followed suit by buying his own.

Wabtec FLXDrive locomotive / Source: Wabtec Corp.

CN purchases its own electric freight locomotive from Wabtec

In a statement released today, CN announced the official sale of its first battery-powered electric locomotive from Wabtec. The purchase includes the provision of financial support from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as part of the Grant Program for Ocean and Rail Freight Movers.

CN is looking to partner with Wabtec to further integrate its FLXdrive technology into its rail network, starting with this initial locomotive purchase. CN President and CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest spoke about the goals of rail networks:

As part of our sustainability strategy to reduce freight transport emissions through innovation, we plan to continue to lead the sector by deploying low-carbon, zero-carbon technologies. At CN, we believe that rail has enormous potential to reduce the environmental impact of transportation. As the engine of the economy, CN is committed to playing a key role in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Going forward, CN has already committed to reducing Scope Three greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fuel and gas activities by 40% per million gross ton-miles by 2030. energy, compared to the 2019 baseline.

The Wabtec FLXdrive is expected to deliver to CN in 2023.

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