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CSX Corp. and GE Transportation yesterday announced they forged an agreement to explore liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology for locomotives, beginning with a pilot program in 2014.Natural gas-fueled locomotives can travel longer distances without refueling stops, and offer environmental and economic benefits, CSX and GE officials said in a press release. Over the next few months, the Class I plans to develop a LNG test plan and secure regulatory approvals."LNG technology has the potential to offer one of the most significant developments in railroading since the transition from steam to diesel in the 1950s," said CSX Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Oscar Munoz. "That change took many years to complete and began with a lot of unknowns, and this one is no different. But aggressively exploring this technology is consistent with CSX's focus on tomorrow, its longstanding commitment to efficient and environmentally friendly transportation, and its role in helping to promote U.S. energy independence."GE will deploy its new NextFuelT natural-gas retrofit kits for CSX. The kits enable existing GE Evolution Series locomotives to operate with dual fuel capabilities. CSX and GE also plan to continue developing LNG technology for other classes of locomotives to promote gains across a larger portion of the Class I's locomotive fleet, and work closely with key stakeholders and government agencies to help advance LNG deployment.GE has been testing low-pressure natural gas technology since spring 2013, and is working closely with CSX and other Class Is. Field tests are expected to begin next year. Other Class Is that are testing or considering LNG technology for locomotives include BNSF Railway Co., CN, Norfolk Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.
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