Stargate and Operail collaborate on locomotive conversion project


The first prototype hydrogen locomotive is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Credit: AS Opérail.

Hydrogen solutions company OÜ Stargate Rail has signed a letter of intent with Estonia-based rail logistics company Operail to transform diesel-electric locomotives into zero-emission fuel cell electric locomotives.

As part of the modernization project, lithium-ion batteries and a zero-emission powertrain composed of polymer-electrolyte-membrane fuel cells will replace diesel generators on board the locomotives.

Once converted, these locomotives will function as shunting locomotives.

The two companies will materialize their partnership in two phases.

To begin with, a prototype fuel cell electric locomotive will be built by the end of next year.

As part of the second phase of the project, the companies aim to convert 40 additional locomotives into fuel cells.

After conversion, each converted locomotive is expected to save 370 tonnes of COâ‚‚ emissions per year.

Stargate Rail Technical Director Rainer Küngas said: “Retrofitting aging diesel locomotives to zero carbon alternatives is already an economically sustainable solution and will be even more so in the future. The modernization also allows for the reuse of existing diesel-electric locomotives that would otherwise end up as stranded assets once they no longer meet future emission standards.

Operail Chairman of the Board, Raul Toomsalu, said: “Operail has focused its activities on environmental sustainability. In Estonia, this involves the electrification of the main rail lines, but this does not solve the problem of emissions in shunting operations.

“The Stargate team has exceptional international experience and world-class technological capabilities, while our professionals at Tapa depot have the skills and knowledge to build modern locomotives. Thanks to this collaboration, we can offer innovative and environmentally friendly solutions in all our target markets. ”

According to the company, the first prototype hydrogen locomotive should be completed by the end of next year.

OÜ Stargate Hydrogen, a private company, is working on the development of green hydrogen solutions in Estonia.

Stargate Rail’s core business is converting diesel-electric locomotives to fuel cell alternatives.

In July of this year, Operail launched an LNG freight locomotive as part of its sustainability efforts.

The company converted an American General Electric C36 locomotive to allow dual fuel operations.


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