CN Acquiring a Progress Rail EMD® SD70H

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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CN is acquiring its first plug-in hybrid diesel/battery-electric main line locomotive, an EMD® SD70H, from Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company. The SD70H, Progress Rail’s six-axle North American Tier 4 main line hybrid locomotive, can operate in both power boost and power substitution modes “and is capable of providing equivalent or greater power and tractive effort as our T4 main line diesel-electric locomotive, the SD70ACe-T4,” the company told Railway Age.

CN said the acquisition is part of its decarbonization plans. The locomotive will be tested “to understand the potential impact and opportunity related to retrofitting a larger portion of our fleet,” the railroad noted. “CN is collaborating on this initiative with the Province of British Columbia, which awarded us approximately C$3.2 million under the Clean BC Go Electric Commercial Vehicle Pilot Program.”

The SD70H, described as “a first of its kind in North America,” will be evaluated on CN’s main line in British Columbia, starting in Prince George and the northern part of the province, under varying operational and weather conditions. The testing, CN said, “will increase CN’s and the rail industry’s knowledge on battery technology and more specifically, on the impact of alternative propulsion technology on main line locomotives. As different alternative propulsion solutions will require batteries—including hybrid, battery-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell locomotives—CN anticipates this initiative will contribute to further develop this key technology, while immediately reducing emissions.”

“CN is committed to supporting the transition to a net-zero economy and proud of the progress we’ve made so far on our decarbonization journey,” said CN Executive Vice President and Chief Network Operating Officer Patrick Whitehead. “We know rail is part of the climate solution and we are determined to do our part by setting ambitious science-based targets. This is another milestone on moving forward toward a more sustainable future.”

“We are committed to developing innovative technologies that save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Progress Rail Executive Vice President of Locomotive Jack Zhang. “Our EMD® hybrid locomotive is a versatile solution that fits various customer applications, providing increased performance and a lower carbon footprint.”

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