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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF adds idle-reduction devices to 11 locomotives in Washington state


In partnership with the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and HOTSTART, BNSF Railway Co. is retrofitting 11 locomotives in Washington state with idle-reduction devices to reduce emissions and conserve fuel.

The Class I plans to operate a pool of the locomotives out of its yards in Spokane and Pasco, Wash. BNSF purchased HOTSTART's Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) to reduce idling during cold weather. The APUs are designed to keep engines warm and ready to restart, and shut down an idling locomotive to reduce fuel and oil consumption, lower emissions, and mitigate noise and engine wear.

BNSF also has installed Automatic Engine Start-Stop (AESS) systems that can be used in conjunction with the APUs to shut down a locomotive when it's not needed. The combination of APUs and AESS systems can potentially eliminate most locomotive engine idling, BNSF officials believe. Remote data logging systems will be installed onboard each locomotive to monitor and track data for each APU.

"Minimizing our impact on the planet is a key priority for all of us at BNSF and we are always striving to incorporate new practices and technologies to help us reduce our impact," said BNSF Vice President-Environmental John Lovenburg in a press release.

With technical assistance from the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency facilitated the partnership between BNSF and HOTSTART to purchase the APUs. When all retrofits are completed, emissions from the locomotives will be reduced by more than 22 tons during the six-month, cold-weather operational period, BNSF officials said.

"This project is an excellent example of how technology can be used to reduce air pollution while saving a company money through significant fuel savings," said Julie Oliver, the clean air agency's director.

BNSF already has equipped more than 90 percent of its more than 7,500 locomotives with AESS systems and all its new locomotives are equipped with the devices.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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