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CP announces hydrogen-powered line-haul locomotive pilot project

Canadian Pacific plans to develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered line-haul locomotive. CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program will retrofit a line-haul locomotive with hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to drive the locomotive’s electric traction motors.

Line-haul locomotives move freight and passenger cars between yards and terminals. These are high-powered units—total rated power of more than 1,715 kW (2,300 horsepower) in Canada—that travel long distances and spend much of their operating time at high power levels.


Once operational, CP will conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to evaluate the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail sector.

This is a globally significant project that positions CP at the leading edge of decarbonizing the freight transportation sector. CP will continue to focus on finding innovative solutions to transform our operations and adapt our business, positioning CP and our industry as leaders for a sustainable future.

—Keith Creel, CP’s President and CEO

The work builds on CP’s prior experience with testing low-emitting locomotive technologies, including biofuels, compressed natural gas and battery-powered solutions.

Nearly the entire freight locomotive fleet of all railway operators in North America consists of diesel-powered units, representing the industry’s most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 1990, CP has improved its locomotive fuel efficiency by more than 40% through a variety of programs and technology deployments designed to improve fuel economy and reduce air emissions.



I suppose the distances in Canada (and much of the US) are too large to electrify the lines, so it needs something other than diesel.
Hence CNG, biofuels, batteries or now H2 it is.
H2 for trains makes some sense as you can easily carry heavy H2 tanks (and batteries if required), unlike aircraft.


There are better solutions for flight. Smaller electric planes with VTOL capability and supersonic speeds. They are on the drawing boards and waiting for batteries to reach 400-450 wh/kg energy density. Not far off now.



I have no idea what you base your comments on, other than assuming batteries we don't have, and which even if they do arrive would be way under the energy density of alternatives.

They work for trainers, two people and 30 minute flight time, but for bigger planes Zero Avia with hydrogen is already in the air with 6 people and aiming for a 300 mile flight soon, with larger planes and longer distances well within the performance envelope.

For very long haul ammonia may be a better bet.


BNSF Railway tried a fuel cell hybrid locomotive in 2009 although the locomotive may have originally been built for CP. I believe that it was only operated for a short period of time. Most new North American locomotives have twice the power of the locomotive described in the article above. Anyway, while the CP locomotive might be useful for secondary lines, I doubt that it used for very long. I think that while the initial capital cost is high, string catenary and running electric locomotives is better concept for high usage lines. GE/Wabtec is also testing a 3300 kW (4400 hp) battery electric locomotive but it will only provide full power for about 20 to 30 minutes but it might be useful in being able to run with overhead catenary with gaps for tunnels, bridges, etc


VTOL and supersonic with electric power???


Eviation Alice is a developing a nine-passenger, all-electric business and commuter aircraft. It has three propellers powered by a 920kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and promises a 440nm (815km) range and 220kt (407km/h) cruise speed. They were supposed to have initial flight tests this year and they were hoping to make initial deliveries in 2022 but I expect that this schedule will slip.

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