Savannah, Ga. — Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia today asked the Federal Railroad Administration to allow them to conduct a pilot program that would test Parallel Systems’ zero-emission autonomous container cars. The 211-mile Georgia Central Railway and 233-mile Heart of Georgia Railroad would like to test the battery-electric cars – which can run alone or coupled together as an autonomous train – on portions of their lines beginning next year. “GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia – all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.
A new California rule mandating a switch to zero-emissions locomotives could create scores of new union jobs, especially if other states follow suit. But last month, the railroad industry filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, charging that states do not have the right to pass regulations stricter than federal limits on emissions. Meanwhile, railroad companies have largely ignored federal rules that are in place mandating a transition to the cleanest-burning diesel regulations, and experts say adherence to those existing rules would also create thousands of union jobs while greatly reducing the release of carbon into the atmosphere.
The world's first ever battery-electric freight train was unveiled in Pittsburgh on Friday. The train, known as the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, was built by rail-freight company Wabtec and showcased at Carnegie Mellon University as part of a bid by the two organizations to decarbonize rail freight transport in the U.S., The Guardian reported. "A bolder, cleaner, more efficient transportation system is in our grasp," Wabtec chief executive Raphael Santana said, as The Guardian reported. "This is just the beginning." In addition to partnering with Carnegie Mellon on this venture, Wabtec is also working with fellow freight company Genesee & Wyoming, according to Railway Age.