CP Embarks on Hydrogen Locomotive Pilot

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Building on its sustainability initiatives, Canadian Pacific now has plans to develop North America’s first hydrogen fuel cell (HFC)-powered linehaul freight locomotive.

CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program will retrofit an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive, replacing its diesel prime mover and traction alternator with HFC and battery technology to power its electric traction motors. Once operational, CP will conduct rail service trials and qualification testing to “evaluate the technology’s readiness for the freight-rail sector.”

“This is a globally significant project that positions CP at the leading edge of decarbonizing the freight transportation sector,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel, Railway Age’s 2021 Railroader of the Year. “CP will continue to focus on finding innovative solutions to transform our operations and adapt our business, positioning CP and our industry as leaders for a sustainable future.”

CP noted this project “builds on our prior experience with testing low-emitting locomotive technologies, including biofuels, CNG (compressed natural gas) and battery-powered solutions. Nearly the entire freight locomotive fleet of all railway operators in North America consists of diesel-powered units, representing the industry’s most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“CP has long focused on energy-saving initiatives as a core component of its sustainability practices. Since 1990, CP has improved its locomotive fuel efficiency by more than 40% through a variety of programs and technology deployments designed to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. The application of leading practices, emerging technologies and relationship building across the value chain and industrial sector will remain critical as CP addresses the climate change challenge.”

CP did not provide further details on this program, except to confirm that it is related to the Canadian government’s Hydrogen Strategy for Canada initiative, announced Dec. 16. Railway Age will be closely following CP’s pilot project and report on new developments as soon as they are available.

For more information about CP’s sustainability initiatives, visit sustainability.cpr.ca.

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