The Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) logo is seen in this handout. Canadian Pacific Kansas City says it will collaborate with U.S. railway CSX Corp. to develop additional hydrogen-powered locomotives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

CPKC to partner with U.S. railway CSX Corp. on hydrogen locomotives

Canadian Pacific Kansas City is continuing to push ahead with efforts to develop hydrogen power as an alternative fuel source for the railway industry.

The Calgary-based company, dubbed CPKC as a result of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s acquisition of Kansas City Southern earlier this year, said Thursday it will collaborate with U.S. railway CSX Corp. to develop additional hydrogen-powered locomotives.

In a news release, the two companies said they will partner on the building and deployment of hydrogen locomotive conversion kits for diesel electric locomotives. As a first step, CSX will convert one of its diesel locomotives using a hydrogen conversion kit developed by CPKC.

The move builds on CPKC’s previous hydrogen program, which began in 2020 when the company — then CP Rail — announced it would develop North America’s first line-haul hydrogen-powered locomotive.

That prototype was designed and built in-house by CP engineers, and has since accumulated more than 1,600 kilometres of testing in revenue service.

CPKC has now also deployed a second hydrogen locomotive for testing at its terminal operations, a program expansion supported by the governments of Alberta and Canada. This second hydrogen locomotive is expected to enter service later in 2023.

North America’s railway fleet is currently nearly entirely powered by diesel locomotives, which are the industry’s most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

With railways under pressure from governments to lower their emissions, many companies are exploring the potential for alternative fuels.

CPKC’s competitor, for example — the Montreal-based Canadian National Railway Co. — has been exploring the possibility of battery-electric locomotives.

In Canada, railways have the added incentive of the federal price on carbon, which is set to rise in the coming years and make diesel more expensive.

In a news release, CPKC CEO Keith Creel said that collaborating with U.S.-based CSX expands the hydrogen locomotive program beyond a single railroad, with the aim of benefiting the entire industry.

“(This) represents an exciting next step in proving the long-term viability of hydrogen as a solution to emissions reduction for our industry,” Creel said.

Earlier this year, ATCO Group announced it had reached a deal with the then-Canadian Pacific to build two hydrogen production and refuelling stations in Alberta.

The Calgary-based structures and logistics company said the stations would be built at CP Rail’s Calgary and Edmonton rail yards, and used to supply the railway’s hydrogen-powered locomotive program.

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