Back in January 2008, I had talked about BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation), Vehicle Projects and the U. S. Army working on a hydrogen fuel cell powered train that would be rolling out soon. Well that day has come at the Topeka, Kansas System Maintenance Terminal.
The world’s first fully operational fuel cell switcher train was introduced by Senator Sam Brownback, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and other players interested in alternative fuels and air quality. This hydrogen train can also be used as a power generator in disaster areas if needed.
According to Mark Stehly, assistant vice president, Technical Research, Development and Environmental, “BNSF operates through several locations that are in non-attainment areas for air quality as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. We are investigating and experimenting with this hydrogen-fuel-cell technology for its potential niche application in areas with air quality concerns.”
From Kansas, the hydrogen locomotive will travel to Pueblo, Colorado and then on to Los Angeles, California for additional testing. If all goes well, this particular hydrogen train will be put into service in the smoggy Los Angeles basin where it will be real world tested in actual service along side other traditional diesel locomotives.