Aurizon charges ahead with freight train project in Townsville


Townsville will be ground zero for the construction and design phase of Aurizon's latest ambitious eco-friendly project to retrofit a diesel-electric freight
train with batteries.

Australia's largest rail freight operator, Aurizon, will develop and trial a 1.8 MWh battery-electric tender (BET) to power diesel-electric locomotive, aiming to eventually replace diesel and run heavy haulage and freight routes using battery technology.

The Albanese Government revealed on Friday that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will invest $9.4m in the project.

Project partner Alta Battery Technology (Alta) will design and construct the BET. with initial works to take place at Aurizon's Townsville facility.

It comes after Aurizon's Townsville operations prepare to replace diesel trucks with hydrogen vehicles later this year as part of a state government trial program.
Once operational, the BET will be trialled across one of Aurizon's customer haulage routes.

Transport Minister Catherine King said most emissions from railway freight come from the consumption of diesel.

"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," she said.

"Decarbonisation of the transport sector is a priority for the government and innovative solutions such as the one being trilled by Aurizon will help deliver cleaner transport in Australia.

Aurizon estimates the BET could eventually provide up to 50 per cent 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.

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

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said Aurizon's innovative technology was an exciting step.

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