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Rail News: Mechanical

BNSF, UP exhibit clean-air technologies at California events


Yesterday, BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad demonstrated and discussed environmentally friendly technologies at separate events in California.

At its Commerce mechanical facility in Los Angeles, BNSF displayed a Green Goat® hybrid switcher — which is designed to reduce air emissions — and four liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered locomotives. BNSF plans to use only LNG-powered locomotives and equipment, and electric-powered cranes at its proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) intermodal facility to be built near the Port of Los Angeles.

The Class I is working with Parsec and Sound Energy Solutions to acquire and deploy LNG-powered yard tractors at the Commerce facility. Built by Kalmar Industries, the tractors are designed to reduce NOx and particulate matter emissions 95 percent compared with a standard off-road diesel tractor.

BNSF officials also discussed why the railroad has begun installing ZTR Control Systems’ SmartStart engine idle reduction system, which automatically shuts down idling locomotives to reduce fuel usage and air emissions.

“Today, we are embracing a new generation of environmentally friendly rail technology," said BNSF Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer John Lanigan in a prepared statement. “The old ways of doing business — such as allowing locomotives to idle when not in use for hours on end — are over.”

Meanwhile, UP hosted a presentation at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Officials reviewed a recently announced memorandum of understanding between UP, BNSF and the California Air Resources Board to reduce diesel emissions in and around rail yards.

UP also demonstrated a Green Goat, which is designed to reduce emissions 80 percent to 90 percent and cut fuel usage by 40 percent to 60 percent compared with a conventional switcher. The Class I has ordered 10 more Green Goats from RailPower Technologies Corp. — to be delivered by early 2006 — for southern California yard operations.

In addition, UP displayed GE Transportation-Rail’s C45ACCTE and Electro-Motive Diesel Inc.’s SD70ACe Tier 2-compliant locomotives. Designed to reduce emission about 50 percent to 65 percent compared with conventional locomotives, the 4,400-horsepower units feature automatic start-stop systems to limit engine idling. About 28 percent of UP’s fleet is equipped with the systems.

“Union Pacific is committed to air quality in California, and is taking significant steps to improve and protect the environment, using a combination of new technology, operational changes and new equipment,” said UP Vice President of Environment and Safety Bob Grimaila.