Before the Tesla Model S era of automobiles, Norfolk Southern (NS) had a project to develop a zero-emission battery-powered locomotive prototype for use as a road switcher . The locomotive, named “999,” didn’t work out as expected and the idea was dropped. It was never put into service. Image courtesy RPS Things have changed a bit since then. The price of batteries has collapsed, electric motor technology has also improvement, and the market is starting to get plenty of used components from retiring electric automobiles. News out of rail world (specifically, Railway Age ) is that “agent 999” has been bought by Rail Propulsions Systems (RPS) and upgraded the locomotive, including with its own power control systems. It is expected to be used ( at last ) in commercial service in southern California’s Los Angeles Basin. Diesel engines are in wide use there and the region has horrible air quality as a result, the worst in the country. RPS is testing 999 and another battery-electric locomotive, 1201, at an Orange County rail yard at the moment. Presuming tests go well, they can then go into service. Image courtesy RPS Apparently, this is just a starting point for RPS, as […]


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