BNSF Railway Hydrogen Test Locomotive Donated to Oklahoma Railway Museum
Proof of concept locomotive built at BNSF’s Topeka, Kansas, shops to be used as shove platform on museum trains
OKLAHOMA, CITY, Okla. – Aug. 8, 2023 – The Oklahoma Railway Museum (ORM) has taken delivery of a historic 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 Topeka, Kansas, locomotive shop facility as part of a public-private partnership between Vehicle Projects Inc., Ballard Fuel Systems, and the U.S. 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 Association of American Railroad’s Technical Training Center Institute test facility (renamed MxV Rail in 2022) prior to entering service at 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 at Hobart Yard, 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.
“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.”
“Not only do we have a commitment to communities and our customers, but also to the environment,” said Jeanelle Davis, executive director of public affairs for BNSF Railway. “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. 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. The ORM is a great community partner, and we value the relationship between the museum and BNSF. They provide educational opportunities about the important history and significance of the rail industry.”
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 about the region’s rich railroad heritage dating 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.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA RAILWAY MUSEUM
Oklahoma Railway Museum is dedicated to the preservation of our great railroad history. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, it is our mission to provide an exceptional experience of how railroading shaped Oklahoma and the nation. Our goals are to provide a working railroad experience, educate our visitors, preserve, and restore historical railroad equipment, and promote railroad history thru community involvement and engagement. Oklahoma Railway Museum is comprised of a dedicated group of individuals with experience in the railroad industry, skilled trade industries, museums, and business management.
ABOUT BNSF RAILWAY
BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies. BNSF operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at www.BNSF.com.