By using this site, you agree with our cookies usage in accordance with our cookies policy. You can always disable cookies in your browser settings.



Chinese and US manufacturers compete to supply battery locomotives to Brazil

21 March 2022
Reading time ~ 3 min
A CRRC battery locomotive in the port of Shanghai. Source: CRRC
Stolchnev Alexey, Russian Projects Editor, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 3 min
Litvintsova Olga, Editor of International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

Brazil: The first battery-powered CRRC locomotive was delivered to the Vale mining company. At the same time, the Brazilian customer is already operating a similar EMD Joule vehicle, produced by Progress Rail (part of Caterpillar).

Vale ordered this locomotive from CRRC in August 2019. The vehicle was manufactured at the Zhuzhou plant with accordance to AAR standards. As to the manufacturer, the capacity of its battery is 1 MWh, the traction force is 520 kN.

Final assembly of the battery locomotive at the Zhuzhou Locomotive plant Final assembly of the battery locomotive at the Zhuzhou Locomotive plant. Source: CRRC

At the same time, a similar EMD Joule locomotive from Progress Rail arrived at Vale’s disposal earlier: the companies announced such work in mid-2020, and in 2021 the machine has already gone into operation. The assembly of this locomotive was carried out at the Progress Rail plant in the Brazilian Seti-Lagoas. The vehicle is equipped with a lithium-ion-phosphate battery with a capacity of 1.9 MWh (it is possible to increase the capacity up to 2.4 MWh). The battery is charged from the catenary, and the locomotive also returns 10% of the charge due to recuperation. The period of autonomous operation of the locomotive is declared at the level of 24 hours. As IRJ reported in the spring of 2021, EMD Joule hauled trains weighing up to 9,000 tons five times a day towards the port at a maximum speed of 80 km/h.

Vale explains the purchase of battery locomotives as part of its ESG strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2030. The company has a corresponding program to expand the use of alternative energy sources in all areas of activity.

Progress Rail battery locomotive for Vale Progress Rail battery locomotive for Vale. Source:

CRRC launched its fully battery shunter for the domestic market in 2020, with the NGD model put into service at the Nanjing steel plant. According to CRRC, a 120 km autonomous range of operation was declared when hauling trains weighing up to 2.5 thousand tons.

Another US major manufacturer, Wabtec, already has competencies for the production of battery-powered locomotives, too. Earlier this year, the company has received several orders for the delivery of FLXdrive locomotives for Australian mining companies. However, the largest contract was with the American operator Union Pacific, which ordered 20 of these vehicles.