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Federal air emission standards will tighten up for locomotive engines in less than four years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month unveiled new Tier 3 and 4 emission regulations governing locomotive and marine engines that begin taking effect in 2012.
When fully implemented in 2015, the regulations will require the engines to reduce particulate matter by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. Tier 3 standards take effect in 2012 and Tier 4 standards, in 2015 — two years earlier than first proposed by the EPA in 2007.
The standards are comparable to those the EPA set for large diesel trucks, buses and construction, mining and agricultural equipment. Railroads will need to adopt ultra-low sulfur diesel and advanced engine systems to comply with the regulations.
That’s OK by CSX Transportation, which long has been committed to reducing emissions and fuel usage said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram in a prepared statement.
“Tier 4 regulations, along with proactive emission reduction initiatives throughout the rail industry, will serve to further reduce emissions,” he said.
Since 2000, CSXT has invested more than $1 billion to upgrade its fleet with more efficient, environmentally friendly locomotives. By 2009, the Class I expects to upgrade more than 1,200 units to further reduce emissions and fuel consumption.
All U.S. railroads will be up to the challenge of meeting the tougher standards, said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger, adding that the roads already have exceeded emissions and energy limits previously set by the EPA.
“Railroads will need to develop infrastructure to handle the fueling of locomotives with urea and maintain diesel particulate filters so heavy that cranes likely will be needed,” he said.
Locomotive builders also will need to design diesel particulate filters and catalytic reduction systems that can fit within the narrow confines of a locomotive and withstand a harsh environment, said Hamberger.
Officials at one major builder believe the new standards will drive technological innovation to significantly lower emissions. In response to Tier 0 through Tier 2 regulations, GE - Transportation spent about $400 million and eight years to develop the Evolution® Series locomotive, which reduces emissions about 40 percent compared with predecessor locomotives, the company said.