Norfolk Southern unveiled an all-electric locomotive this week at its Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, PA The 1,500 horsepower locomotive gets its power from 1,080 12-volt lead-acid batteries, the same kind found under the hoods of most cars.

No diesel motor here, just all electric baby.

Dubbed the NS 999, the locomotive was a joint venture between the US Department of Energy (who reportedly provided $1.3 million in funding for the project), Norfolk Southern, Penn State, and Brookville Equipment Company. Brookville supplied the brake regeneration system for the locomotive; imagine if they could put such a system on every car of a mile long train? There is no diesel engine on board either, all the power comes from the electric motor, with an advanced battery system to best manage energy output and maximize the lifespan of the batteries.

No mention of how long it takes to recharge the train, though it can apparently operate three shifts without recharging. No word on how long these shifts are either, but it all sounds very impressive. The NS 999 is just a prototype train, but a working prototype is better than no prototype at all. Trains used to rule this country before falling on to hard times (a lá Amtrak). Trains already play an important part in our freight system, so bringing them up to date and ready for our future transportation needs is crucial. If we could increase the amount of freight that trains move around, it sure would be nice to get some of those semi-trucks off the highways.

Using over a thousand lead-acid battieres isn’t exactly economical or eco-friendly in a broad sense. On the same token though, I give credit to companies that work with what is readily available, rather than making absurd, pie-in-the-sky promises.

Source: Pilot Online

Picture: Norfolk Southern