Paving the Way for Green Innovation: Wabtec Unveils Revolutionary FLXdrive Battery Locomotive in Partnership with Roy Hill

By Jordi Lippe-McGraw Jordi Lippe-McGraw has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 1, 2023

In a world increasingly focused on sustainability and green innovation, the transportation sector is undergoing a monumental shift towards more eco-friendly practices. Leading this charge, Wabtec Corporation has made a groundbreaking stride with the introduction of the FLXdrive battery locomotive, the world’s first 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul locomotive in partnership with its first commercial customer Roy Hill. Unveiled in a vivid shade of pink at Wabtec’s design and development center in Pennsylvania, this revolutionary machine was showcased to an eager audience of company employees, executive customers, and representatives from the government and the local community.

With climate change pressing on the global conscience, the FLXdrive locomotive emerges as a crucial innovation, a beacon of hope and progress in the rail industry’s journey towards a sustainable future.

This FLXdrive locomotive represents a major step in the journey to a low-to-zero-emission future in the rail industry,” Rafael Santana, President & CEO of Wabtec, shared. He underscored the crucial role of advanced battery technology and the unwavering innovative spirit of the Wabtec team in realizing this green initiative. Roy Hill, a major iron ore miner owned by Hancock Prospecting, Australia’s most successful private company, was highlighted as the perfect launch customer for this venture, thanks to their commitment to operational excellence and sustainable practices.

Poised to bring about transformative change, the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, with its substantial 7-megawatt hours (MWh) energy capacity, is anticipated to significantly reduce fuel costs and emissions per train, contributing to the broader goals of environmental stewardship. Following final battery installations and rigorous track testing, the locomotive is scheduled to embark on its 10,500-mile journey in 2024, destined for the mining heartlands of the Pilbara region in Western Australia.

Gerhard Veldsman, Chief Executive Officer at Hancock Prospecting Group Operations, praised the initiative, highlighting the foresight of Executive Chairman Mrs. Gina Rinehart AO in creating an environment conducive to innovation and sustainable progress. “The FLXdrive locomotive represents not only a first for the Pilbara, but a first for the mining industry. The technological smarts that have gone into the development of the loco makes it well suited for our rail network,” Veldsman noted, drawing attention to the locomotive’s suitability for Roy Hill’s rail network and its innovative use of regenerative braking to promote energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.

Currently, Roy Hill’s operations include the use of four Wabtec ES44ACi “Evolution Series” diesel-electric locomotives to pull extensive trains laden with iron ore. The introduction of the FLXdrive will create a hybrid locomotive, integrating seamlessly with Wabtec’s diesel-electric locomotives and recharging en route through regenerative braking. This intelligent system not only manages the overall train energy flow and distribution through state-of-the-art energy management software but also withstands the extreme heat of the Pilbara with a robust battery thermal management system.

The locomotive’s distinctive pink coloration is symbolic, reflecting Roy Hill’s unwavering commitment to breast cancer research and support for those impacted by the disease. In a poignant gesture, Wabtec commemorated the FLXdrive’s debut and Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a $50,000 donation to Linked By Pink, a non-profit organization supporting young breast cancer survivors.

This bold initiative by Wabtec and Roy Hill is a shining example of the transportation industry’s potential to drive change, pushing boundaries and embracing green technologies for a sustainable and eco-friendly future. It is a statement to the world that progress and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand, heralding a new era of innovation and sustainability in rail transport and beyond.

By Jordi Lippe-McGraw Jordi Lippe-McGraw has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a News Columnist at Grit Daily. A multi-faceted NYC-based journalist, her work on topics from travel to finance have been featured in the New York Times, WSJ Magazine, TODAY, Conde Nast Traveler, and she has appeared on TODAY and MSNBC for her expertise. Jordi has also traveled to more than 30 countries on all 7 continents and is a certified coach teaching people how to leave the 9-to-5 behind.

Read more

More GD News