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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

EPA proposes rule to reduce locomotive engine emissions


On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule aimed at significantly reducing air emissions from locomotive and marine diesel engines.

The Clean Air Locomotive and Marine Diesel Rule would set stringent emission standards and require the use of advanced technologies to reduce air pollutants — as much as 90 percent of particulate matter and 80 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions.

For line-haul and passenger locomotive engines, the rule would tighten emission standards when locomotives are remanufactured, and set long-term regulations requiring the use of emission-reducing technologies and provisions to reduce locomotive idling.

The locomotive remanufacturing proposal would take effect as soon as certified systems are available — as early as 2008, but no later than 2010. Standards for new locomotive engines would be phased in starting in 2009; long-term standards would take effect in 2015.

“By tackling the greatest remaining source of diesel emissions, we’re keeping our nation’s clean air progress moving full steam ahead,” said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson in a prepared statement.

The railroad industry is committed to working with the EPA and locomotive builders to continue developing “cleaner and greener” locomotives, said Association of American Railroads (AAR) officials. Thousands of locomotives already are equipped with energy efficient technologies.

“The railroad industry is deploying innovative hybrid and ‘gen-set’ locomotives that reduce emissions as much as 90 percent, especially in rail yards,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger. “And while the federal government has provided most of the funding for research into reducing truck emissions, almost all of the funding for this research has come from locomotive manufacturers and railroads.”

Since 2002, CSX Transportation has spent more than $1 billion to upgrade its fleet with new low-emission locomotives, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram.

“New technology and these new locomotives have allowed CSXT to reduce fuel use by 30 million gallons,” he said.

By 2009, The Class I plans to upgrade more than 1,200 locomotives to further reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

"We look forward to working with EPA to support policies that are good for the environment, meet our freight-rail business objectives and efficiently serve our customers,” said Ingram.

However, meeting the EPA's new proposed standards will be “no simple task” and require a “large development effort” from engine and emissions-control equipment manufacturers, said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a non-profit organization that promotes diesel engines’ environmental progress and economic importance.

“In addition to their broad size range, these engines offer additional complexities and challenges due to their unique operating conditions,” he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/5/2007