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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BNSF plans to pare down diesel expenses, pump up fuel efficiency


With diesel prices rising — and tension in the Middle East mounting — Burlington Northern Santa Fe is gearing up a 2003 fuel conservation campaign under which the railroad plans to improve fuel efficiency 4.1 percent.

"We need to use an average of 38 fewer gallons of fuel per locomotive per day than we did in 2002," said Greg Stengem, BNSF vice president of safety, training and operations, in a prepared statement. "Even what may seem like a small action, such as shutting down an idling locomotive, can add up to big savings [because] an idling locomotive burns an average of five gallons of fuel an hour."

This year, BNSF plans to average 791.2 gross-ton-miles handled per gallon of fuel (GTMs/gallon) compared with 760.3 GTMs/gallon in 2002.

To achieve that goal — and cut into the more than $800 million BNSF spends on fuel annually — the Class I will focus on:

• shutting down locomotives, and isolating or shutting down unneeded locomotives in a consist;

• ensuring that engineers adjust acceleration and power or stretch braking, and employ other train-handling techniques;

• lubricating wheel flanges and/or rail to reduce friction, and ensuring that lubricators installed on locomotives are properly maintained; and

• pacing trains, and managing meets and passes to ensure smoother train speeds and reduce "hurry-up-and-wait" train dispatching.

"If every employee across the network is making the same decisions and taking the same actions to save fuel, the savings will add up," said Stengem.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/24/2003