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Canadian Pacific announces hydrogen-powered locomotive pilot project

Rail freight operator Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP) has announced that it plans to develop North America's first line-haul hydrogen-powered locomotive. CP's Hydrogen Locomotive Program will retrofit a line-haul locomotive with hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to drive the locomotive's electric traction motors.

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) provides rail freight and intermodal transportation services across a 13 000-mile network, servicing major centres in Canada and the United States (US) carrying 2.8 million carloads in 2019. It has a network of more than 100 transload facilities linking key ports on both the west and east coasts offering the shortest route from Vancouver to the Midwest and from Toronto to Calgary (photo courtesy CP).

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. 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, said Keith Creel, CP’s President, and CEO.

Low-carbon alternatives to diesel

The work builds on CP’s prior experience with testing low-emitting locomotive technologies, including biofuels, compressed natural gas (CNG), 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 (GHG) 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 percent through a variety of programs and technology deployments designed to improve fuel economy and reduce air 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.

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