Union Pacific Railroad signed a historic deal with Wabtec Corp. this week for 600 locomotive modernizations featuring a suite of digital solutions and innovations. The agreement, worth more than $1 billion, is the largest investment in modernized locomotives in rail industry history, and part of UP’s fleet strategy to move more freight efficiently and sustainably across its service territory.
Wabtec will modernize 525 of UP’s AC4400 and AC6000 locomotives, as well as 75 Dash-9 locomotives. The modernized locomotives will feature a suite of digital solutions and innovations such as the FDL Advantage engine upgrade and Modular Control Architecture, a next-generation controls technology that is applicable throughout Wabtec’s locomotive installed base.
The modernizations will extend the locomotive’s life and provide benefits, including a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 18 percent; more than 80 percent increase in reliability; and haulage ability increase of more than 55 percent.
“UP is taking thoughtful, deliberate steps to reduce our environmental impact and to help our partners improve theirs,” said Lance Fritz, Chairman, UP president and CEO. “Wabtec’s modernization program helps make our existing fleet more fuel efficient, capable and reliable. The resulting increased tractive power enables us to move more freight with fewer locomotives, which improves efficiency and reduces emissions.”
The initiative comes as the industry looks to sustainably meet the growing demands on the rail network by maximizing and extending the capabilities of locomotive fleets. It also helps place UP on a path to achieve its aggressive emissions target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from a 2018 baseline, and on a path to net zero emissions by 2050.
The modernizations also support UP customers’ efforts to meet their own carbon reduction targets.
“Modernizations are a game changer for our customers offering the ability to realize significantly more value out of existing locomotive assets,” said Rafael Santana, Wabtec president and CEO. “By customizing these solutions for our customers and installing state-of-the-art technology, we are helping our customers realize outcomes including increased tractive effort, fuel efficiency, reliability, and adhesion, which reduce maintenance, repair and overhaul expenses. These fleet benefits will support UP’s sustainable service improvements and long-term growth strategy.”
Modernizations to reduce emissions, contribute to circular economy
The modernizations will provide approximately 350 tons of carbon reduction per locomotive per year. The total order will enable UP to realize approximately 210,000 tons in annual emission reductions, equivalent of removing emissions from nearly 45,000 passenger cars per year.
The upgrades also support the circular economy with more than half the locomotive’s weight being reused. Approximately 70,000 tons of steel will be reused and recycled – the equivalent of more than 51,000 passenger cars – for the order.
The deal is the third major modernization order from UP since 2018, with more than 1,030 locomotives upon completion in 2025. Wabtec will perform the upgrades at its plants in the United States, including Fort Worth, TX. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2023.