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Norfolk Southern Unveils Experimental Electric Locomotive

Norfolk Southern unveiled a prototype 1,500-horsepower switching locomotive that relies solely on rechargeable batteries for power yesterday at its Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa.

The NS 999 prototype was developed by Norfolk Southern in partnership with the US Dept. of Energy (DOE), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and The Pennsylvania State University.

NS 999 is an entirely electric locomotive that uses a lead-acid energy storage system comprising 1,080 12-volt batteries to operate in railroad switching applications without the use of a diesel engine and with zero exhaust emissions. The plug-in locomotive also can regenerate dynamic braking energy through a system provided by Brookville Equipment Company.

The recovered dynamic braking energy continually replenishes the energy storage system, and uses this recovered energy for tractive effort in rail operations. The batteries are carefully monitored and controlled through an elaborate battery management system to assure safety and maximum battery life. When fully charged, NS 999 is able to operate three shifts before recharging is required.


richard schumacher

With concerns about emissions I would have expected the Railpower hybrid switch engine to have had some success:


Is this a plug-in or a BEV (locomotive)?

Alex Kovnat

Years ago, one of the advantages of railroad electrification mentioned by advocates, was that kinetic energy of a train slowing down or going down a hill could be regenerated back into the overhead wires. With battery packages like what was mentioned above, you could get regenerative braking with Diesel (or for that matter, any prime mover)- electric locomotives, without the expense and problems of overhead wires.

Dynamic braking, as currently done with Diesel locomotives, saves brake wear but unfortunately, kinetic energy is converted into heat by resistance grids (the traction motors are reversed and function as generators), instead of being recycled. So I hope that Norfolk Southern's battery electric locomotive will lead to batteries being used with prime mover-electric, as well as battery-only locomotives.

Henry Gibson

This is not a hybrid; it is a plug in battery electric vehicle. It is closely related to the hybrid green goats.

It should not use twelve volt batteries. It should use 2 volt cells. Internal cells are too hard to manage.

EFFPOWER has good battery technology for this type of trial.

Actually it should use ZEBRA battery packs but they have not figured out how to automate the production so that they can cost less.

The fireless steam locomotives would do this task very well. See tube. We can now make big strong tanks for steam.


We could get most of the benefits of electrification of the railways just by electrifying the sections of track on which the train is speeding up and slowing down

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