‘A significant step’: U.S. Steel unveils its new battery-operated locomotive
PITTSBURGH, PA, (courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) October 31, 2023 – United States Steel Corp. unveiled a battery-powered locomotive on Monday as part of its ongoing effort to clean up operations in the Mon Valley.
The electric train, funded partially by the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection and built by Innovative Rail Technologies, was converted from a used diesel model built in the 1960s. It will be used to transport steel, coke, scrap metal and iron ore around U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works. A second unit will be built for the company’s Edgar Thomson mill in Braddock.
The switcher trains operate at relatively slow speeds as a sort of on-site workhorse.
Innovative Rail developed the battery-powered version for use across industries, with its first tourist application coming next year. It has also built locomotives for the largest U.S. steelmaker, Nucor Corporation, based in North Carolina.
“The battery-powered locomotive reduces diesel fuel, reduces [fine particulate matter] and also reduces greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to over 7,000 passenger vehicles,” Clairton plant Manager Mark Jeffrey said at a Monday unveiling. “The project represents a significant step towards air pollution reduction, reinforces our commitment to environmental excellence, and creates a model for other industries.”
U.S. Steel has faced scrutiny for poor air quality in the Pittsburgh region. It was fined more than $600,000 for pollution violations this year by the Allegheny County Department of Health. Last year, it paid the department $4.5 million in fines for emissions violations.
In March, it closed Clairton’s three oldest coke batteries. The company said it plans to be zero emission by 2050. In a TV advertisement promoting its new trains, U.S. Steel said Pittsburgh’s air quality is 80% better than it was 10 years ago, citing Health Department data.
A Department of Environmental Protection official said the Shapiro administration is “fully supportive of U.S. Steel’s initiative to upgrade part of its locomotive fleet.”
The “DEP supports the project and applauds U.S. Steel for its commitment to replacing diesel locomotives,” DEP Press Secretary Josslyn Howard said in an email to the Post-Gazette. “Reducing diesel emissions in and around ports, intermodal facilities, railyards, and distribution centers is one of the top priorities of the Driving PA Forward Initiative, as these types of facilities emit large quantities of harmful air pollution, and many are co-located alongside environmental justice areas, some of the most disproportionately impacted communities in Pennsylvania.
“This project will improve air quality where people live, work, and play in and around the environmental justice areas of Clairton City, Braddock Borough and beyond.”
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About Innovative Rail Technologies – IRT is a rail solutions provider offering its proprietary technology ATLAS (Advanced Technology Li-Ion Adaptive System). ATLAS is a turnkey, scalable propulsion and control package customized to the unique needs of customer operations. Paired with automated, high-speed charging, IRT’s ATLAS-powered locomotives maintain 24/7 availability for its operators in an economically beneficial package.
IRT was established in 2019 and has a rapidly expanding list of customers which includes Fortune 500 companies, Ports, Industries, and Short Line Railroads. IRT works with its growing nationwide network of locomotive remanufacturers (ATLAS Authorized Installers) and can also provide ATLAS kits directly to customers for in-house remanufacture. More information about the company can be found at: www.InnovativeRailTech.com