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Aurizon Queensland

Aurizon’s train fleet in Queensland could soon all be running on hybrid systems utilising both diesel and electricity, able to use both or one or the other. Aurizon has secured a deal with Alta Battery Technology, a pioneer in battery technology innovation for power decarbonisation.

Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight provider and part of the partnership is the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) who has provided just over $9.4 million to put towards the project.

ARENA is Australia’s renewable energy innovation agency that was established in 2012 by the Australian Government. Since it started the agency has supported 672 projects with $2.31 billion in grant funding.

Alta will design and construct a prototype battery electric tender (BET) utilising their innovative DC-to-DC converter to connect diesel assets to electric power sources, electrifying the train fleet and extending the haulage distance by up to 400 kilometres.

Rail transport emissions from Australia’s heavy haul freight industry account for more than 0.8 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Alta Managing Director Roy Zou said that Australia’s heavy reliance on diesel powered locomotives coupled with urgent action required to prevent further climate disasters, means the need for Alta’s revolutionary technology couldn’t be greater.

“By combining Alta’s cutting-edge battery technology with the expertise of Aurizon and the financial support of ARENA, we are poised to redefine the landscape of Australia’s heavy machinery industries, offering cost-efficient and eco-friendly alternatives.

“We are grateful for the support of ARENA and Aurizon and look forward to working with them to power a cleaner future.”

The hybrid system isn’t the only clean benefit to Alta’s technology. In addition to the hybrid operation, the tender’s battery will also harness re-generative energy captured as the train travels down grades and brakes as part of normal operation.

Aurizon Queensland
Alta Managing Director Roy Zou, Senator Nita Green, Aurizon Bulk East Manager David Wright, Les Walker, MP Mundingburra.

Alta’s hybrid system will be built as a 40-foot containerised solution which sits behind the head of the locomotive on a wagon. It will be assembled in Australia and all the after-market support is provided locally including the transport and warranty services.

Aurizon’s Managing Director and CEO Andrew Harding said they’re aiming to deliver decarbonised freight solutions for customers right across Australia not just in Queensland.

“We know that Aurizon will need different solutions for different hauls and customers. We are committed to making a transition towards net zero operational emissions based on a locomotive fleet that uses zero emissions technologies, is flexible and suited to the challenging Australian conditions in which we operate.

“By delivering a locomotive fleet that can tap into renewable energy sources, Aurizon and the rail industry can do the heavy lifting in decarbonising transport supply chains in Australia.

“We are also working to increase the proportion of freight transported by rail rather than road, which would contribute to reducing overall transport sector emissions,” said Andrew.

Alta expects the practical completion date to be December 2025 with the technology on track by January 2026.

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