Wabtec and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ, Kazakhstan National Railway) have signed a $600 million memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 150 FLXdrive™ battery-electric switchers and modernization work to transform the KTZ main line diesel-electric fleet into NextFuel™ liquified natural gas-powered (LNG) locomotives.
“The investment marks the largest sustainable technology agreement by this CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) railroad, and will further revolutionize KTZ’s main line and yard operations, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs,” Wabtec said.
The FLXdrive™ switchers will be 100% battery powered with more than 1.5 megawatt hours of energy. Described as “zero-emission solution for KTZ,” they are claimed to have the ability to reduce the railroad’s yard operations fuel cost by approximately $75,000 per unit per year, to reduce scheduled maintenance by up to 97%, and avoid costly electrification investments.
For KTZ’s main line fleet, Wabtec will provide NextFuel™ kits to convert traditional diesel-electric locomotives to LNG. The conversions, Wabtec said, will more than double their operational range to 3,000 km (1,860 miles) and decrease fuel costs by up to 26%.
Wabtec and KTZ also will collaborate on digital solutions. The first digital product is Trip Optimizer, “providing fuel-efficient operation modes for freight trains to reduce fuel consumption by at least 5%,” Wabtec noted. Pilot testing is planned for the fourth quarter, and with successful results, the system will be deployed on KTZ road locomotives.
Wabtec will build the FLXdrives and convert the main line locomotives to LNG at the LKZ facility in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Production will begin in 2024.
“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 Wabtec President and CEO Rafael Santana. “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.”
“This MOU continues to grow our long history of success with Wabtec in modernizing Kazakhstan’s rail industry,” said KTZ’s Management Board Chairman Nurlan Sauranbayev. “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.”