British engineering firm Clayton supplies twelve locomotives to China

Clayton CBT55 hybridImage Clayton

Clayton Equipment, a name that has been part of the UK railway engineering scene for decades, is spreading its influence across the world. The Burton-on-Trent headquartered company has secured a contract to supply a fleet of twelve hybrid locomotives to the Shougang Group, the parent company for an iron ore mining operation at Macheng Mine in China.

The export contract covers the supply of seven 55-tonne and five 32-tonne hybrid locomotives, with delivery in this year and in 2023. The locomotives, using the latest hybrid technology, enable safe haulage in the non-electrified loading and unloading areas of the mine. The locomotives supplied are automation compatible for remote use. Clayton will be partnering with Beijing Soly, the EPC Company contracted to automate the mine haulage levels.

A wave of cleaner alternatives

For anyone familiar with the British motive power scene over the past half-century and more, Clayton is a name synonymous with the modernisation of the network. The company’s involvement goes right back to the plan that foreclosed on steam power in the 1950s and saw the wholesale adoption of diesel power in the following decade.

Clayton HQ in Burton-on-Trent in England (Image Clayton)

Now, the company is as much a pioneer in hybrid and battery motive power as it was for diesel design back in the 1950s. Earlier this year, the company hit the headlines with the supply of a battery electric shunting switcher for GB Railfreight. That trial of the class 18 Hybrid+ was heralded at the time as the beginning of a wave of cleaner alternatives for switching operations across the UK. There are equally high hopes for the adoption of these units in China.

Worldwide reputation

Clayton will not be saying goodbye to its products when they are shipped to their Chinese clients. The machines are equipped with a cloud-based system designed to allow remote monitoring of the performance of locomotives anywhere in the world. That includes mainline operation or below-ground duties. The data set gives a real-time performance, says the company, enhancing production efficiency, maintenance and safety via remote access to the machines. “This prevents unscheduled downtime, troubleshoots performance issues, investigates faults, installs software updates and customises the operating parameters to suit the mine operators”, added a statement.

“This contract was secured in a very competitive marketplace”, said Steve Gretton, the CEO at Clayton Equipment. “We are extremely pleased to supply twelve Clayton hybrid locomotives to be used in one of the largest Chinese iron ore mines. A single order for twelve locomotives enhances Clayton’s worldwide reputation as a leading supplier of locomotives to the mining sector. The locomotives will provide sustainability and will be environmentally compliant to meet our customer’s commitments in investing in new technology and provide cost savings”.

The future green economy

For those who only remember Clayton as an early adopter of the dieselisation programme on the British railway network, the company has moved hugely since those days, almost seventy years ago. Now, the company is at the forefront of hybrid and battery technology and their applications to railway rolling stock, both above and below ground, where they are regarded as pathfinders in the niche sector in supplying low-emission mining locomotives.

In the present century, Clayton has become a supplier of choice to the world’s mining operations. It is a critical position in the world economy, with modern mining for rare-earth materials playing a rising part in the future economy – not least for the raw materials that drive battery technology and the future green economy. They are active in over sixty countries around the world, a greater penetration than when the company was a household name in the UK.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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