First hybrid locomotives in Brazil to reduce environmental impact of freight transport

First hybrid locomotives in Brazil to reduce environmental impact of freight transport
© Progress Rail (YouTube)

Developed by Progress Rail, the locomotives combine a diesel-electric system with battery packs, promising improved fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact.


Rumo, Brazil's largest railway operator, has introduced two hybrid EMD® GT38H locomotives, developed by Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company. These locomotives utilize a diesel-electric system and battery packs, representing a significant step toward greener cargo transportation.

The hybrid locomotives will undergo six months of rigorous testing on the route between Guarapuava (PR) and Desvio Ribas station in the Ponta Grossa region (PR). The first journey with these hybrid locomotives is scheduled for October 2023.

“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,” said Marcus Jorge, Director of Maintenance at Rumo.

The outstanding feature of these hybrid locomotives is their exceptional fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Rumo estimates that the model will be up to 45% more fuel-efficient than traditional diesel units. The integration of batteries as an energy source increases savings while significantly reducing emissions, including particulate matter, nitrous oxide, and noise.

The locomotives also feature regenerative braking, which recovers energy during braking and recharges the batteries instead of dissipating it as heat. The locomotive's control system intelligently activates the batteries according to the operator's power requirements. These units also offer increased reliability, safety, and ergonomic benefits, including remote monitoring to anticipate potential failures and improved operator comfort.

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