Sierra Northern Railway to Use Zero-Emissions Switching Locomotive - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions  -  April 20, 2021

Sierra Northern Railway Switches to Zero-Emissions

Sierra Northern Railway announced that it will use hydrogen fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems for its upcoming zero-emission switching locomotive.

"We are pleased to partner with this great team to build and test this innovative zero-emission switching locomotive. We believe this project will help lead the switching locomotive industry to an emissions-free pathway in all ports in the State of California," said Kennan H. Beard III, President of Sierra Northern Railway, in a statement.

Zero-emission technology will find an apt testing ground in switching locomotives. California, in which Sierra Northern Railway operates, contains over 260 switching locomotives and up to 500 intrastate locomotives. Each of these burns an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel per year.

Replacing these locomotives with their zero-emission counterparts could reduce over 12 million gallons of diesel annually - the equivalent of taking 20,000 light-duty vehicles off the road. By obviating the need for diesel fuel, they could improve local air quality and reduce GHG emissions.

To begin this program, Sierra plans to replace one of its diesel locomotives with a zero-emission switching locomotive by 2023. Instead of diesel, Ballard's 200-kilowatt FCmove®-HD fuel cell module will power this new addition. The locomotive will also use hydrogen storage along with advanced battery and systems control technologies.

This pilot program will be partially funded by a $4-million award from the California Energy Commission and will establish a platform for widespread deployment of zero-emissions locomotives throughout California.



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