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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Climate control: U.S. roads envision 18 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012, AAR says


On Feb. 12, the U.S. Department of Energy launched the Bush Administration's "Climate VISION" (Voluntary Innovative Sector Initiatives: Opportunities Now) program, a voluntary, public-private partnership aimed at pursuing cost-effective initiatives that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

As part of Climate VISION, freight railroads plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 18 percent by 2012, according to an Association of American Railroads statement.

During the past 20 years, U.S. roads have reduced their emission rates (primarily carbon dixoide from diesel locomotives) more than 70 percent through new technology and improved operating practices, AAR said.

"In 1980, a gallon of diesel fuel moved a ton of freight 235 miles by rail. Today, that same gallon can move a ton of freight 406 miles," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger. "This means that freight railroads have reduced the rate of emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 30 million tons annually."

To achieve the industry's Climate VISION goal, railroads will need to rely even more on emerging technology, such as locomotive idling reduction, and research to improve operating practices, such as top-of-rail lubrication.

Locomotive manufacturers also plan to play a role. GE Transportation Systems recently began offering the Evolution Series, a 4,400-horsepower, 12-cylinder locomotive designed to reduce emissions 40 percent compared with other models. General Motors Corp.'s Electro-Motive Division plans to introduce a similar power unit later this year.

During the past few years, railroads have acquired more than 3,000 AC-traction locomotives, improving their fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, said Hamberger.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/13/2003