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Metra completes first round of emission testing


A task force formed by Metra last month to investigate air emissions by trains and at downtown platforms has completed a first round of testing and is analyzing results.

Comprising union, freight-rail, Amtrak and government representatives, the task force was organized after a Chicago Tribune story published in November raised concerns about emission levels of Metra trains and air pollutants emitted at downtown platforms.

Metra hired independent testing firm Carnow, Conibear & Associates, which completed testing of rail-car air quality in mid-December and is analyzing results, Metra officials said in a prepared statement. The next round of testing — to be conducted at station platforms and in locomotive cabs, cab cars and shops — will begin in January.

The rail-car tests were performed on the two cars closest to the locomotive and the rear car of each train. Because Metra has a variety of locomotives and each is required to meet a different U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standard depending on age or rebuilding date, the tests addressed each variety, according to the agency.

Metra currently meets all EPA standards for rail engines, Metra officials said. In terms of diesel exhaust exposure, Metra has performed similar studies for exhaust components other than carbon soot, and found the emissions are below the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) exposure limits for occupational hazards.

While testing continues, the task force’s six working groups will address issues related to emission results, locomotives, cars and ventilation, fuel and funding options, Metra said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/21/2010