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Batteries are getting Everywhere as Economies get Slowly Greener - now Hybrid Shunting Locos.

July 11, 2020 12:18 PM

Clayton Hybrid Shunter (Clayton Equipment Ltd)Shunting locomotives are the less-than-glamorous diesel-powered machines that carry out the hum-drum work of moving rail wagons around to make up trains or for shifting heavy loads around extensive heavy industrial sites. Most people have probably seen the squat 6-wheel shunting engines which have served marshalling yards, docks and factories across Britain since 1952.

Most are now over 50 years old, expensive to maintain and spare parts are now becoming difficult to source. In addition they are noisy for machines that often operate out of doors and at night. They do not comply with modern emission standards and large diesel engines cannot easily be switched on and off so they run idle in between movements, wasting fuel and adding to pollution and noise.

Electric power means simple traction motors and, with battery storage, a hybrid locomotive can be operated with a small, quiet, cleaner diesel engine delivering continuous recharge power and compliant with the latest EU Stage V emission and efficiency standards. So batteries are now getting everywhere as companies move to cut costs and economies get slowly greener.

Clayton Equipment Ltd (CEL), based in Burton-on-Trent, is now establishing itself in the niche market of hybrid shunters. CEL first came into existence in 1920 as Clayton Wagons Ltd, a subsidiary of Clayton & Shuttleworth (founded 1842) but emerged under its present name in 1931 as a private company with one employee and two directors - the employee and his wife! They successfully built up a business trading in goods and spare parts for Clayton Wagon's former customers in agriculture and manufacturing. After WWII they acted as agents for International Combustion Ltd who eventually took them over and and both companies ended up as past of Rolls Royce Group. They were floated off by RRG in March 2005 have now become a successful independent company specialising in the conversion of old diesel-powered locomotives and in manufacturing new diesel-battery electric hybrid locomotives for a variety of applications.

They are currently working on contracts for five 90 tonne, battery hybrid shunters with 56kW diesel rechargers for Tata Steel, Port Talbot. These will be the largest locomotives built in the UK since 2003. Power is delivered by the traction battery and 416 kW maintenance-free, high torque electric motors. The need to deliver 2,500 tonne loads of molten iron safely across the Port Talbot steelworks, operating on gradients of up to 1 in 60 requires high torque and high track adhesion. In these conditions the weight of the locomotive needs to be high and this led to a design based on standard lead-acid accumulators which provide the necessary weight, are cheaper than Li-ion batteries and are easier to replace and recycle.

Two similar 80 tonne shunters from CEL have been also been ordered for Sellafield Ltd for their nuclear site in Cumbria.

Pic from Clayton Equipment Ltd