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Rio Hill adds battery-powered locos to its rail fleet

Roy Hill’s iconic pink livery symbolises the company’s commitment to assisting research and those suffering from breast cancer.

Roy Hill’s iconic pink livery symbolises the company’s commitment to assisting research and those suffering from breast cancer.

1st November 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Rail solutions group Wabtec and its launch customer, Australian iron-ore miner Roy Hill, have celebrated the unveiling of the FLXdrive battery locomotive – the world’s first 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul locomotive for mainline service.

The debut ceremony, held at Wabtec’s design and development centre in Pennsylvania, US, showcased the locomotive’s distinct pink colour to an audience of employees, customer executives, government and community officials.

“This FLXdrive locomotive represents a major step in the journey to a low-to-zero-emission future in the rail industry,” said Wabtec president and CEO Rafael Santana.

Roy Hill’s FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive will feature an energy capacity of 7 MWh. Based on the route and company’s rail operations, the FLXdrive is anticipated to provide a double-digit percentage reduction in fuel costs and emissions per train.

Once Wabtec completes the final battery installations and track testing, the locomotive will begin its 17 000-km journey in 2024 for delivery to its new home in Western Australia.

“The foresight of our executive chairman, Mrs Gina Rinehart, has been instrumental in establishing an environment in which we can successfully leverage the ingenuity of our people alongside key partners like Wabtec to transform our rail and mining operations through next-generation technologies,” said Hancock Prospecting CEO Gerhard Veldsman

“The FLXdrive locomotive represents not only a first for the Pilbara, but a first for the mining industry. The technological smarts that have gone into the development of the loco makes it well suited for our rail network. By using regenerative braking, it will charge its battery on the 344 km downhill run from our mine to port facility and use that stored energy to return to the mine, starting the cycle all over again. This will not only enable us to realise energy efficiencies but also lower operating costs.”

Roy Hill currently uses four Wabtec ES44ACi “Evolution Series” diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains that are typically 2 700 m in length carrying more than 33 000 t of iron-ore.

The addition of the FLXdrive will form a hybrid locomotive consist with Wabtec diesel-electric locomotives, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking.

The FLXdrive manages the overall train energy flow and distribution through its state-of-the-art energy management software. It is also designed with a unique battery thermal management system using liquid cooling to withstand the Pilbara heat, where ambient temperatures can exceed 55 °C.

Roy Hill’s iconic pink livery symbolises the company’s commitment to assisting research and those suffering from breast cancer. To commemorate the FLXdrive’s premiere, Roy Hill, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Wabtec donated $50 000 to Linked By Pink, a non-profit organization consisting of Erie area survivors diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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