Canadian-Pacific and CSX Partner to Develop Hydrogen-Powered Trains
Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and CSX Corporation announced Thursday their intent to establish a joint venture aimed at developing and deploying hydrogen locomotive conversion kits for diesel electric locomotives. This partnership represents a significant step forward in proving the viability of hydrogen as a solution for emissions reduction in the rail industry.
As a first step in their collaboration, CSX plans to convert one of its diesel locomotives using a hydrogen conversion kit developed by CPKC. The conversion work will take place at CSX’s locomotive shop in Huntington, West Virginia.
Keith Creel, President and CEO of CPKC, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, “This innovative collaboration expands our hydrogen locomotive program beyond a single railroad and represents an exciting next step in proving the long-term viability of hydrogen as a solution to emissions reduction for our industry.”
Joe Hinrichs, President and CEO of CSX, also welcomed the partnership and its potential to enhance emissions performance and offer customers a more environmentally-friendly transportation solution. Hinrichs stated, “CSX looks forward to working as a partner with CPKC in the development of the hydrogen locomotive program as it demonstrates our commitment to implementing alternative fuel solutions.”
The rail industry heavily relies on diesel-powered locomotives, which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Finding a long-term, effective alternative fuel solution is crucial to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and support a lower carbon economy. Hydrogen-powered rail has emerged as a promising option across several industries to address this challenge.
In December 2020, Canadian Pacific (CP) announced plans to retrofit a diesel freight locomotive with hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to create North America’s first line-haul hydrogen-powered locomotive. The prototype, designed and built by CP engineers, made its first movement under its own power in late 2021. By the end of 2022, the locomotive had successfully completed its first revenue moves and has since accumulated over 1,000 miles of testing in revenue service.
CPKC has further expanded its hydrogen locomotive program by deploying a second hydrogen locomotive for testing in terminal operations. The program expansion has received support from funding awarded by Emissions Reduction Alberta and the Government of Canada Low Carbon Economy Fund. The second hydrogen locomotive is expected to enter service later this year.
The joint venture between CPKC and CSX potentially marks a key step in driving innovation and sustainability in the rail industry. Both companies recognize the importance of transitioning to alternative fuel solutions to reduce carbon emissions. However, challenges remain, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as hydrogen refueling stations and addressing cost considerations to ensure the widespread adoption of hydrogen-powered rail. Hydrogen fuel production is also extremely energy intensive, and is technically only a ‘sustainable’ energy source when produced using clean energy sources such and wind and solar.
The opportunities for hydrogen-powered rail transportation in the commercial sector are significant. By converting diesel locomotives to hydrogen fuel cells, carbon emissions can be dramatically reduced, paving the way for a more sustainable future. Hydrogen-powered trains offer advantages such as extended operating ranges and increased energy efficiency compared to diesel trains. These benefits make them especially attractive for long-haul commercial applications.
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