October 4, 2023
PINHAIS (PR), Brazil – Rumo, the largest railway operator in Brazil, has taken delivery of two hybrid EMD® GT38H locomotives, which will be the first hybrid units for cargo transport in revenue service. Developed by Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, the locomotives utilize a diesel-electric system and battery packs, with energy to power the motors coming from the diesel generator and a bank of batteries.
Testing will take place over six months on the track between Guarapuava (PR) and the Desvio Ribas railway station in the region of Ponta Grossa (PR). The first consist pulled by the hybrid locomotives is planned to depart from Cascavel (PR) in October 2023.
“This positive solution from Progress Rail provides considerable gains for our operations,” points out Marcus Jorge, Director of Maintenance at Rumo. “With this technology in our network, we will be able to evaluate the performance of the unit, considering the characteristics of the track. This is an important step in analyzing the feasibility of expanding the use of hybrid locomotives in our fleet.”
The highlight of these hybrid locomotives is their fuel efficiency and their resulting environmental impact. Based on operational plans, Rumo estimates the model will be more fuel efficient than diesel units currently in operation, and the use of batteries as an energy source could add improved savings. Combining these benefits with a modern Cat® 3512 engine, Rumo approximates a total fuel reduction of up to 45%. In addition to lower fuel consumption, the locomotives reduce other emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrous oxide, and noise.
“As a division of Caterpillar, we are deeply involved in the energy transition, with our investments in technology—from hydrogen and battery, to electric, to these hybrid locomotives—being jointly developed with our parent company,” commented Colin Kerelchuk, Senior Vice President for Progress Rail. “We are pleased to provide these hybrid units to Rumo, which provide fuel and emission reduction solutions to help them meet their sustainability goals.”
In operation, energy generated during dynamic braking is recovered, recharging the batteries instead of dissipating as heat through high power resistors. The locomotive control system activates the batteries automatically, aligning with the operator’s power requests. Other advantages of the units include increased reliability, safety, and ergonomics. For example, the locomotive can be monitored remotely, with the potential to anticipate failures, and the design adds more comfort to operators.
“We are optimistic about this project with Progress Rail and the technological advances this locomotive represents in relation to reducing emissions and improving safety,” says Marcus Jorge. “In addition, these locomotives represent a step forward for new technology to be developed, with a focus on broad-gauge and higher-density operations as we have in Malha Norte, the main rail corridor in the country between Rondonópolis (MT) and Porto de Santos (SP).”
Ideal model for challenging tracks
Tests on the Guarapuava-Desvio Ribas tracks are taking place in 2023. The corridor was selected considering its challenging layout with mountainous areas and curves that require smaller units.
“This area of the South Network requires compact locomotives capable of making curves easily without adjusting the tracks,” highlights Rodrigo Rampinelli, Manager of Planning and Operations Engineering at Rumo.
The two hybrid models acquired by Rumo will haul the same payload as trains previously pulled by six locomotives, with increased velocity on the tracks.
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Rumo is the largest railway operator in Brazil and offers logistical services for rail transport, port lifting and storage. The Company operates 12 transshipment terminals, six port terminals and manages around 14,000 kilometers of railway tracks in the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Goiás and Tocantins. The asset base comprises 1,400 locomotives and 35,000 wagons. Rumo is included in the 17th portfolio of the ISE B3, the B3 Corporate Sustainability Index that recognizes companies that are references in ESG practices.
About Progress Rail
Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, is one of the largest integrated and diversified providers of rolling stock and infrastructure solutions and technologies for global rail customers. Progress Rail delivers advanced EMD locomotives and engines, railcars, trackwork, fasteners, signaling, rail welding and Kershaw Maintenance-of-Way equipment, along with dedicated locomotive and freight car repair services, aftermarket parts support and recycling operations. The company also offers advanced rail technologies, including data acquisition and asset protection equipment. Progress Rail’s deep industry expertise, together with the support of Caterpillar, ensures a commitment to quality through innovative solutions for the rail industry. Progress Rail has a network of nearly 200 locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Australia, China, India, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit progressrail.com and follow @Progress_Rail on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook.