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The South Coast Air Quality Management District's (SCAQMD) board earlier this month approved a $22.85 million contract with Metrolink to help pay for locomotives that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Tier 4 emission standard.During the same meeting, the board agreed to consider an additional $36 million over four phases to help the commuter railroad purchase Tier 4 locomotives in the future, according to a Metrolink news release."To reduce pollution, mechanical breakdowns and service delays caused by its aging diesel locomotive fleet, the Metrolink Board and staff partnered with the SCAQMD to fund and acquire these new Tier 4 locomotives, which will improve air quality and reliable Metrolink service for Southern California," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who serves on both the Metrolink and SCAQMD boards.In 2013 and 2014, SCAQMD approved awards to Metrolink in the total amount of $52 million for the replacement of 20 passenger locomotives with new Tier 4-compliant ones.This latest award will help fund an order of up to 20 additional Tier 4 locomotives, Metrolink officials said.The new locomotives are designed to reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 85 percent compared with current Tier 0 locomotive engines. Additionally, the new engines will have 31 percent to 57 percent more horsepower, which is expected to allow greater operational flexibility, capacity and reliability.At the end of June, the California State Transportation Agency awarded Metrolink $41.2 million in state funds to help fund up to nine of the low-emission locomotives. That funding came from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, which provides grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.The long-term Metrolink fleet plan calls for up to 40 new Tier 4 locomotives with a total project cost of $280 million, with the remaining funds provided through a combination of Metrolink member agency contributions and other subsidies.The first of the new locomotives are expected to begin operating in late 2016.Metrolink was the first commuter-rail system in the United States to procure Tier 4-compliant locomotives, agency officials said.
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