Batteries to power freight trains


The Albanese Government is investing in a groundbreaking project to retrofit a diesel-electric freight train with batteries, aiming to run heavy haulage and general freight routes using battery technology.

Australia’s largest rail freight hauler, Aurizon, will develop and trial a 1.8 MWh battery-electric tender (BET) to power a diesel-electric locomotive, thanks to $9.4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Project partner Alta Battery Technology (Alta) will be responsible for the design and construction of the BET, with initial works to take place at Aurizon’s Townsville facility. Once operational, the BET will be trialled across one of Aurizon’s customer haulage routes.

Aurizon estimates the BET could eventually provide up to 50 percent of the required power on suitable commercial haulage routes, helping to decarbonise the company’s haulage routes. In addition, the BET will be charged with renewable energy to provide energy to the locomotive and further displace diesel use on the trial route.

In the future, the company is hoping to deploy a battery-electric locomotive supported by the BET, which offers a pathway to decarbonising rail freight using existing rail infrastructure to replace diesel entirely.

Freight transported by rail and road is growing every year. An efficient and integrated rail system that transports Australia’s freight cost effectively and reduces carbon emissions is crucial.

The Albanese Government is also working with the industry to develop the Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap, a sector-wide plan to reduce emissions and support innovative solutions that deliver cleaner transport in Australia.

Aurizon operates more than 600 locomotives serving 40-plus customers and transporting 250 million tonnes of commodities nationally.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Catherine King:

“Most of the emissions from railway freight come from the consumption of diesel, so this trial is an important first step to decarbonise our freight rail system and shows the importance of government and industry working together to find the best ways to meet our net zero target.

“Decarbonisation of the transport sector is a priority for the Government and innovative solutions such as the one being trialled by Aurizon will help deliver cleaner transport in Australia.”

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen:

“Through ARENA’s support, the government is pulling out all stops to decarbonise heavy industry and helping seize the opportunity for cleaner, cheaper to operate transport. 

“Aurizon’s innovative technology is an exciting step in the future of electrification for the transport sector, particularly in the regions.”

Senator for Queensland Nita Green:

“Our government, alongside industry like Aurizon, is moving the transport sector into the future – and we’re doing it right here in regional Queensland.

“Taking advantage of lower emissions technology is all about creating and growing more jobs in our regions.”



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