Historic hydrogen locomotive finds new home in Oklahoma City

BNSF's first hydrogen locomotive - Trains


The Oklahoma Railway Museum has taken delivery of a historied alternative fuel testbed locomotive, most recently operated by BNSF as a hydrogen fuel cell switcher in Southern California.

Built as Canadian Pacific GP9 8637 in 1957, the unit was rebuilt by CP in the mid-1980s and utilized in regular service until 2006, when the unit was converted to a “Green Goat,” an early form of battery-electric switcher. In 2007, the unit was acquired by BNSF and rebuilt at BNSF’s historic Topeka, Kansas locomotive shop facility as part of a public-private partnership between Vehicle Projects Inc., Ballard Fuel Systems, and the US Department of Defense.

The unit was officially unveiled as a hydrogen fuel cell switcher on June 29, 2009, and moved to Pueblo, Colorado for extensive testing at the Technical Training Center Institute (TTCI) test facility prior to entering service in BNSF’s Hobart Yard in Los Angeles, California.

The objective of this most recent project was to determine if hydrogen-powered fuel cell switcher locomotives could meet the operational demands and duty cycles of yard service, while producing zero emissions. After several years of operation and data collection in Hobart, the unit was retired in 2014, and recently donated to ORM by BNSF.

The test unit set the stage for future developments in alternative energy technology at BNSF, which is also planning a mainline hydrogen fuel cell locomotive demonstration with Progress Rail and Chevron in 2024.

Oklahoma Railway Museum – Oklahoma City, OK

“We’re thrilled to add this unique BNSF locomotive to our museum roster,” stated Greg Hall, ORM trainmaster. “BNSF 1205 is in great shape, and we’ll convert it to a shove platform for use on our trains. We plan to tell the story of BNSF’s efforts to achieve reduced locomotive emissions through the development of technologies that could eventually replace fossil fuel use. We truly appreciate BNSF’s generosity.”

BNSF Executive Director of Public Affairs, Jeanelle Davis, said the railway not only has a commitment to the communities and customers BNSF serves, but also to the environment.

“The development and use of the BNSF 1205 is just one example of our ongoing efforts to move our nation’s freight while reducing our carbon footprint, despite already being the most environmentally friendly mode of land transportation,” Davis said.

“This locomotive has provided valuable insights and helped to set the stage for further development of alternative fuel technologies at the railroad, and we are glad we could find a home for the BNSF 1205 at the Oklahoma Railroad Museum.”

Created in 1997, ORM operates several miles of former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroad mainline near downtown Oklahoma City. Through train rides, historic equipment and artifacts on display, special activities such as Polar Express trains, interpretive displays and hosting community events, ORM’s focus is on education of the region’s rich railroad heritage dating back to the 1880s. Testbed equipment such as BNSF 1205 joins historic rolling stock and locomotives that allow guests to experience examples of railroading over time and the continuing evolution of technology at our nation’s railroads.

Source: Business Wire