Union Pacific sign largest modernisation deal in rail history with Wabtec

Union Pacific have signed a deal worth more than $1 billion with Wabtec for 600 locomotive modernisations featuring a suite of digital solutions and innovations.

Wabtec modernising the locomotives.

Credit: Union Pacific

Union Pacific have signed a historic deal with the Wabtec Corporation for 600 locomotive modernisations featuring a suite of digital solutions and innovations. The agreement, worth more than $1 billion, is the largest investment in modernised locomotives in rail industry history, and part of Union Pacific’s fleet strategy to move more freight efficiently and sustainably across its service territory.

“Union Pacific is taking thoughtful, deliberate steps to reduce our environmental impact and to help our partners improve theirs,” Lance Fritz, Chairman, President and CEO of Union Pacific, said. “Wabtec’s modernisation programme 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.”

Union Pacific’s modernisation initiative comes as the industry looks to sustainably meet the growing demands on the rail network by maximising and extending the capabilities of locomotive fleets. It also helps place Union Pacific on a path to achieve its aggressive emissions target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 from a 2018 baseline, and on a path to net zero emissions by 2050. The modernisations also support UP customers’ efforts to meet their own carbon reduction targets.

“Modernisations are a game changer for our customers offering the ability to realise significantly more value out of existing locomotive assets,” Rafael Santana, President and CEO of Wabtec, said. “By customising these solutions for our customers and installing state-of-the-art technology, we are helping our customers realise outcomes including increased tractive effort, fuel efficiency, reliability, and adhesion, which reduce maintenance, repair and overhaul expenses. These fleet benefits will support Union Pacific’s sustainable service improvements and long-term growth strategy.”

The modernisations will provide approximately 350 tonnes of carbon reduction per locomotive per year. The total order will enable Union Pacific to realise approximately 210,000 tonnes in annual emission reductions. The reductions are the equivalent of removing emissions from nearly 45,000 passenger cars per year. The modernisations also support the circular economy with more than half the locomotive’s weight being reused. Throughout the order, approximately 70,000 tonnes of steel will be reused and recycled, the equivalent of more than 51,000 passenger cars.

Wabtec will modernise 525 of Union Pacific’s AC4400 and AC6000 locomotives, as well as 75 Dash-9 locomotives. The modernised 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 modernisations will extend the locomotive’s life and provide benefits, including a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 18 per cent; more than 80 per cent increase in reliability; and haulage ability increase of more than 55 per cent.

This deal is the third major modernisation order from Union Pacific since 2018, with more than 1,030 locomotives upon completion in 2025. Wabtec will modernise the locomotives at its plants in the United States. The deliveries are expected to begin in 2023.

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