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Rail News: Mechanical

UP orders 111 environmentally friendly switchers from RailPower, MotivePower


After testing hybrid switchers the past three years, Union Pacific Railroad is getting ready to begin using the emission-reducing, more fuel-efficient locomotives at three Texas yards. Today, UP announced plans to obtain 111 hybrid locomotives in 2006 and 2007 for its yards in Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Antonio.

By mid-2007, UP expects to use 56 units in Houston, 46 in Dallas and nine in San Antonio. The locomotives are designed to reduce emissions up to 80 percent and cut fuel usage about 40 percent compared with conventional switchers.

The railroad will apply an $81 million Texas Emissions Reduction Plan grant toward an order for 80 triple-Generator Set (genset) and 18 twin-genset RP Series hybrid locomotives from RailPower Technologies Corp. The switchers feature two or three 700-horsepower diesel engines commonly used in trucks. The engines are designed to turn a generator, which produces electricity to power the locomotive.

“The RP20 Series was specifically designed to reduce high fuel usage in road and branch line switching operations where locomotives use up to three times the amount consumed by yard switchers,” said RailPower President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Maier in a prepared statement.

UP also placed an order for 13 MP20B-3 switchers with MotivePower Industries Inc. The locomotives are powered by 2,000-horsepower Caterpillar engines.

“Our new low-emission yard and road locomotives are the next chapter in Union Pacific's voluntary efforts to reduce emissions,” said UP Vice President of Environment and Safety Bob Grimaila.

Since 2000, UP has acquired more than 2,000 new locomotives that comply with stricter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, retrofitted more than 1,000 units to meet the standards and retired more than 1,300 locomotives.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/14/2005