Brazilian train operator invests in hybrid cargo units from Progress Rail

Brazilian train operator invests in hybrid cargo units from Progress Rail

Rumo, the largest railway operator in Brazil, has taken delivery of two hybrid EMD® GT38H locomotives, which will be the first hybrid units for cargo transport in revenue service.

The locomotives were developed by Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, and utilise a diesel-electric system and battery packs, with energy to power the motors coming from the diesel generator and a bank of batteries.

The locomotives will be tested over a six-month period on the track between Guarapuava (PR) and the Desvio Ribas railway station in the region of Ponta Grossa (PR). The first consist pulled by the hybrid locomotives is planned to depart from Cascavel (PR) in October 2023.

The hybrid locomotives are expected to be significantly more fuel-efficient than diesel units currently in operation, with Rumo estimating a total fuel reduction of up to 45%. The locomotives also reduce other emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrous oxide, and noise.

In operation, energy generated during dynamic braking is recovered, recharging the batteries instead of dissipating as heat through high power resistors. The locomotive control system activates the batteries automatically, aligning with the operator’s power requests.

Other advantages of the units include increased reliability, safety, and ergonomics. For example, the locomotive can be monitored remotely, with the potential to anticipate failures, and the design adds more comfort to operators.

“We are optimistic about this project with Progress Rail and the technological advances this locomotive represents in relation to reducing emissions and improving safety,” says Marcus Jorge, director of maintenance at Rumo. “In addition, these locomotives represent a step forward for new technology to be developed, with a focus on broad-gauge and higher-density operations as we have in Malha Norte, the main rail corridor in the country between Rondonópolis (MT) and Porto de Santos (SP).”

“As a division of Caterpillar, we are deeply involved in the energy transition, with our investments in technology—from hydrogen and battery, to electric, to these hybrid locomotives—being jointly developed with our parent company,” commented Colin Kerelchuk, Senior Vice President for Progress Rail. “We are pleased to provide these hybrid units to Rumo, which provide fuel and emission reduction solutions to help them meet their sustainability goals.”

The Guarapuava-Desvio Ribas tracks were selected for the testing phase due to their challenging layout with mountainous areas and curves that require smaller units.

“This area of the South Network requires compact locomotives capable of making curves easily without adjusting the tracks,” highlights Rodrigo Rampinelli, manager of planning and operations Engineering at Rumo.

The two hybrid models acquired by Rumo will haul the same payload as trains previously pulled by six locomotives, with increased velocity on the tracks.

Photo credit: Progress Rail

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