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Rail News: BNSF Railway

New operating practice helps BNSF cut fuel usage

A new fuel conservation practice is paying dividends for BNSF Railway Co. This summer, locomotive engineers began using a speed/throttle limiting process to save fuel on trains operating on high-speed corridors at speeds of 55 mph or more.

Engineers use higher throttle positions (6, 7 or 8) when accelerating, but drop to a throttle position 5 or below when their train reaches a speed of 55 mph.

"A locomotive operating in throttle position 8 burns 210 gallons per hour," said Director of Operating Practices Bob Repola in an item on the "BNSF News" Web site. "In throttle position 5, the same locomotive would burn only 110 gallons per hour."

The practice — which was reviewed to ensure it has a minimal affect on overall network velocity, BNSF said — allows trains on minimal or descending grades to accelerate or maintain speed without burning additional fuel.

During tests, BNSF officials determined the practice cut fuel usage up to 8 percent on some trains. The railroad consumes about 1.5 billion gallons of diesel annually.

"Locomotive engineers are a key part of BNSF's efforts to minimize fuel use," said Repola. "Compliance with this new initiative will make our operation more efficient, as well as reduce our emissions and reduce use of an increasingly scarce resource."

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More News from 9/19/2008