Union Pacific Railroad plans to purchase 20 battery-electric locomotives for testing in yard operations. The combined purchases and upgrades to yard infrastructure are expected to exceed $100 million, representing the largest investment in battery-electric technology by a US Class I railroad.
The locomotives will be acquired from Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, and Wabtec Corporation, two companies at the forefront of locomotive innovation, and will be the world’s largest carrier-owned battery-electric locomotive fleet in freight service.
Union Pacific anticipates the first units will arrive on site in late 2023 with complete delivery by late 2024. The locomotives will be used in rail yards in California and Nebraska, where they will be tested for performance in cold and warm weather, helping identify the locomotives’ capabilities and challenges for broader deployment.
For every 10 battery-electric locomotives used, approximately 4,000 tons of carbon will be eliminated annually, the equivalent of removing 800 cars from the highway. By working with the locomotive manufacturers in this test phase, Union Pacific hopes to advance battery-electric technology development and evaluate its potential deployment in long-haul service.
Union Pacific published its first comprehensive Climate Action Plan in December 2021, outlining its efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within its operations. As part of that commitment, Union Pacific will reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 26% by 2030 and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
As it works toward its goals, Union Pacific is collaborating with community partners. The Port of Los Angeles, which recently received a Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, awarded Union Pacific a subaward that will partially cover the cost of one battery-electric locomotive.