June 24, 2023

CPKC, CSX form joint venture for hydrogen locomotives


Canadian Pacific Kansas City and CSX are working together to build and deploy hydrogen locomotive conversion kits that will be used for diesel electric locomotives.

The two have formed a joint venture in which CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) will use one of CPKC’s (NYSE: CP) kits to convert a diesel locomotive as a kickoff to the collaboration. CSX will convert the locomotive at CSX’s locomotive shop in Huntington, West Virginia.

“CSX looks forward to working as a partner with CPKC in the development of the hydrogen locomotive program as it demonstrates our commitment to implementing alternative fuel solutions that could further enhance our emissions performance and offer our customers an even more environmentally-friendly transportation solution,” CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs said in the news release. “This exciting initiative will greatly benefit from the expertise of CSX’s advanced, large-scale facilities, where the locomotives will be built.”

The freight rail industry, including the Class I railroads, have been working to develop greener locomotive technologies, such as hydrogen-powered locomotives and locomotives that run on biodiesel, as part of a wider effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

CP’s plans to retrofit a diesel-electric locomotive so that it can become a line-haul, hydrogen-powered locomotive began in December 2020. The retrofit consists of using hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to drive a locomotive’s electric traction motors. CP developed an in-house prototype in late 2021, and by late 2022, the locomotive made its first revenue moves and has accumulated more than 1,000 miles of testing in revenue service, according to Thursday’s news release. A second hydrogen locomotive for terminal operations has also been deployed, with plans for it to enter service sometime later this year. Funding for that program was supported in part from an award from Emissions Reduction Alberta and the Government of Canada Low Carbon Economy Fund.

“This innovative collaboration expands our hydrogen locomotive program beyond a single railroad and represents an exciting next step in proving the long-term viability of hydrogen as a solution to emissions reduction for our industry,” CPKC President and CEO Keith Creel said. “Our hydrogen locomotive went from concept to reality in 24 months with the first zero emissions hydrogen locomotive having already pulled freight in revenue service. We look forward to this collaboration as we work to create a lower carbon future.”

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