Progressive Railroading

Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

EPA introduces new Tier 3 and 4 emission standards for locomotive engines


Federal air emission standards for locomotive engines will be stricter in less than four years. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled new Tier 3 and 4 emission regulations governing locomotive and marine engines that begin taking effect in 2012.

When fully implemented in 2015, the regulations will require the engines to reduce particulate matter by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. Tier 3 standards take effect in 2012 and Tier 4 standards, in 2015 — two years earlier than previously outlined in EPA regulation proposals.

The standards are comparable to those the EPA set for large diesel trucks and buses, and construction, mining and agricultural equipment. Railroads will need to adopt ultra-low sulfur diesel and advanced engine systems to comply with the regulations.

That's OK by CSX Transportation, which long has been committed to reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram in a prepared statement.

"Tier 4 regulations, along with proactive emission reduction initiatives throughout the railroad industry, will serve to further reduce emissions," he said.

Since 2000, CSXT has invested more than $1 billion to upgrade its fleet with more efficient, environmentally friendly locomotives. By 2009, more than 1,200 locomotives will be upgraded to further reduce emissions and lower fuel consumption by nearly 10 million gallons, said Ingram.

Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger welcomed the regulations for all U.S. railroads, which will be "up to the challenge" of meeting tougher standards.

"The railroads will need to develop an infrastructure to handle the fueling of locomotives with urea and maintain diesel particulate filters so heavy that cranes likely will be needed to remove and reinstall them for maintenance," he said. "But in meeting the emissions limits established by the previous standards, the railroad industry has achieved emissions and energy efficiencies beyond those contemplated at the time the previous standards were issued."

In addition, locomotive builders will need to design diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems that can fit within the narrow confines of a locomotive and withstand a harsh environment, said Hamberger.

Officials at one of the major builders, GE - Transportation, believe the new standards will drive technological innovation to significantly lower emissions. In response to Tier 0 through Tier 2 regulations, GE spent about $400 million and eight years to develop the Evolution® Series locomotive, which reduces emissions about 40 percent compared with predecessor locomotives, GE said, adding that 2,400 Evolution Series units currently are in service.

GE is part of a stakeholder group including government, rail industry, environmental and community organizations that helped develop the new Tier 3 and 4 standards.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/17/2008