Wabtec and Kazakhstan railroad sign US$600m deal for battery shunters and LNG-powered locomotives

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Wabtec and the national railway company of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), have signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 150 FLXdrive battery-electric shunters and modernization work to transform the mainline fleet into NextFuel liquid natural gas-powered (LNG) locomotives.

The investment marks the largest sustainable technology agreement by the railroad, and will further revolutionize KTZ’s mainline and yard operations, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs.

“Since early 2000, KTZ has been the regional transportation leader in adopting state-of-the-art technologies and is honoring that legacy by pioneering the transition to a low-carbon rail network with Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric technology,” said Rafael Santana, president and CEO at Wabtec.

“Battery power is an ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact and costs of yard operations. Using the FLXdrive in a rail yard can significantly improve local air quality and reduce noise for neighboring communities. We are proud to partner with KTZ on this strategic investment,” Santana added.

The FLXdrive shunters will be 100% battery powered with more than 1.5 megawatt hours of energy. These new shunters are a zero-emission solution for KTZ, enabling the railroad to reduce the fuel cost of its yard operations by approximately US$75,000 per shunter per year. The FLXdrives also will reduce scheduled maintenance by up to 97% and avoid costly electrification investments.

To support KTZ’s mainline fleet sustainability efforts, Wabtec will provide NextFuel kits to convert the traditional diesel locomotives to LNG. Wabtec’s NextFuel LNG mainline locomotives will increase the operational range of travel by more than two-fold – from 1,300 km to 3,000 km and decrease fuel costs by up to 26%.

Wabtec and KTZ will also collaborate on digital solutions for the fleet. The first digital product is Trip Optimizer, providing fuel-efficient operation modes for freight trains to reduce fuel consumption by at least 5%. Pilot testing is planned for the fourth quarter and with successful results it will be deployed on KTZ locomotives.

“This MOU continues to grow our long history of success with Wabtec in modernizing Kazakhstan’s rail industry,” said Nurlan Sauranbayev, KTZ’s chairman of the management board. “Together, we will make our rail operations more environmentally friendly and cost effective. It also strengthens our position as a rail technology leader in the CIS region.”

Wabtec will build the FLXdrives and convert the locomotives to LNG at the LKZ facility in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Production will begin in 2024.