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California State Transportation Authority Funds Sierra Northern Railway’s Expansion of Hydrogen-Powered Locomotives Initiative

By July 7, 2023 3   min read  (621 words)

July 7, 2023 |

california state transportation authority funds sierra northern railways expansion of hydrogenpowered locomotives initiative e1688732998450

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif.– Sierra Northern Railway (SERA) continues to lead the industry in the conversion of diesel locomotives to hydrogen-fueled, zero- emission locomotives. On July 6, 2023 the California State Transportation Authority announced that it will fund Sierra Northern Railway’s industry leading initiative to convert three additional diesel switching locomotives to hydrogen-powered zero, emission solutions.

Sierra Northern Railway is receiving funding from the State of California, California State Transportation Authority, Port and Freight Infrastructure Project Funding through a public-private partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District. The total project cost will be approximately $19,500,000 to expand on its current efforts by developing, demonstrating, and testing three additional hydrogen-fueled, zero-emissions switcher locomotives. The testing will be conducted on the soon to be constructed test track in SERA’s West Sacramento rail yard. When this project is completed in quarter four of 2027, it will expand the SERA Hydrogen Zero Emission Switching Locomotive Fleet to a total of four locomotives and will help SERA lead the way to eventually convert the entire SERA fleet to hydrogen powered zero-emission switchers as well as all 260+ switchers in California to a Sierra Hydrogen Powered Zero Emission Switcher Locomotive.

This award builds on the 2021 award by the California Energy Commission grant to undertake a first-generation hydrogen-fueled, zero-emissions switcher locomotive where SERA is retiring an older tier 0 diesel locomotive and replacing it with a zero-emission switching locomotive using cutting-edge hydrogen technology. Both the Energy Commission and the California State Transportation Authority projects involve the integration of an advanced hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen storage, advanced battery, and systems control technologies to provide an alternative to less environmentally friendly diesel-powered locomotives.

Kennan H. Beard III, President of Sierra Northern Railway said, “SERA is extraordinarily proud to be awarded the funds by the California State Transportation Authority as we continue to lead the industry converting our fleet of switching locomotives to hydrogen powered zero emissions locomotives. We believe that through creative public-private partnerships like we have with the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District we can help the State of California achieve its goals of converting all switching locomotives to a Zero Emission Solution.”

Alberto AyalaExecutive Director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District stated, “The District is proud to play a role in the development and deployment of hydrogen locomotives in the Sacramento region. With over 25 years of experience implementing successful clean air projects for heavy-duty on-road and off-road vehicles, we are ready to support this new public-private partnership with SERA to build and demonstrate these hydrogen-fueled, zero-emission fuel cell electric locomotives. This technology will provide significant air quality and environmental justice benefits to communities surrounding the Port of West Sacramento, as well as reduce global warming gases, noise, and odor. The project puts Sacramento squarely in the clean energy transition while helping California achieve its decarbonization goals.”

The project partners working together to execute this innovative effort include Sierra Northern Railwaythe Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management DistrictRailpower Tech LLC, Ballard Power Systems, Velocity Strategies, Gas Technology Institute, WHA International, UC Riverside, College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology and Valley Vision.

About Sierra Northern Railway (SERA)

Sierra Northern Railway is the freight division of privately owned, Sierra Railroad Company. Sierra Railroad Company is also the principal owner of Sierra Energy Corporation, which has developed a proprietary waste- to- clean hydrogen technology: FastOx® gasification. Sierra Northern Railway currently operates approximately 75 miles of track in Northern California and 30 miles in Southern California through the heart of a number of the Golden State’s prime industrial areas, serving a wide variety of customers, and interchanging with both BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.

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