Norfolk Southern on Monday unveiled what it’s calling “the latest in alternative energy locomotive technology” at its Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa.: NS 999, a prototype 1,500-hp switching locomotive that relies solely on rechargeable batteries for power.
NS 999 is an all-electric locomotive that uses a lead-acid energy storage system comprised of 1,080 12-volt batteries to operate in railroad switching applications without the use of a diesel engine, and with zero exhaust emissions. The “plug-in” locomotive also can regenerate dynamic braking energy through a system provided by Brookville Equipment Company. The recovered dynamic braking energy continually replenishes the energy storage system, and uses this recovered energy for tractive effort. The batteries are continuously monitored and controlled through an elaborate battery management system to assure safety and maximum battery life. When fully charged, NS 999 is able to operate three shifts before recharging is required.
Norfolk Southern developed the locomotive with assistance from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the Federal Railroad Administration, and The Pennsylvania State University, an alliance NS chief executive Wick Moorman called “an incredibly creative partnership.”
“At Norfolk Southern, we strongly subscribe to the view that sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint are solid business objectives that also provide enormous benefits to the communities we serve,” said Moorman (pictured below). “By utilizing regenerated kinetic energy of the train and with no diesel exhaust emissions, NS 999 achieves those goals.”
Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster, Ranking Republican on the House Railroads Subcommittee, secured $1.3 million in federal funding for the NS 999 project. “Historically, Pennsylvania has had a tremendous history in railroading, and it remains my belief that our state can still have a bright future in rail if we take advantage of dynamic partnerships between the private and public sectors like the one that produced this locomotive,” said Shuster.
Also in attendance was U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today, the transportation sector currently accounts for just under a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, more than half of nitrogen oxide emissions, and almost three-quarters of our petroleum consumption. We need to change that,” he said. “By working together to develop alternative energy sources and innovative technologies like this electric locomotive, we will make transportation more sustainable and energy-efficient.”