First Zero-emission Line-Haul Locomotive Coming to the South Coast Air Basin

South Coast AQMD and the U.S. EPA awarded funding to BNSF Railway (BNSF), one of the largest freight railroads in North America, to repower a diesel line-haul locomotive with an EMD® Joule battery-powered system by Progress Rail, supplier of railroad and transit system products and services.

When delivered in mid-2023, this will be the first-ever zero-emission battery electric line-haul locomotive deployed in California. The line-haul, battery-electric locomotive (BEL) will feature six axles, eight MWh battery storage capacity, and zero-emissions.

The locomotive will routinely operate on a 240-mile route between Los Angeles and Barstow, operating at least 85% of the time in the South Coast Air Basin. This will, benefit the disadvantaged communities alongside the route in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties by reducing diesel emissions.

Line-haul locomotives account for 85% of overall locomotive NOx emissions in California and consume an estimated 240 million gallons of diesel fuel. Although the initial cost of electric locomotives is higher than diesel powered systems, the electric system’s cost is typically offset by fuel-savings, less maintenance, and the vehicle data acquisition, performance tracking over a set route, quieter operation, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The development of zero-emission locomotive technologies will provide cleaner options other than Tier 4 diesel engines, which is currently the cleanest emission standard currently. Once the zero-emission locomotive technology is adequately demonstrated and verified, future incentive funding may be applied to deploy more zero-emission locomotives through programs such as Carl Moyer and Proposition 1B.

For more information, contact Mei Wang at (909) 396-3257.

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