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Local Railyard Pollution-Reduction Effort to get a Kickstart

Release Date: 6/29/2004
Contact Information: Peter Murchie
(503) 326-6554

June 29, 2004

Program could save thousands of gallons of diesel, reduce switchyard emissions by 90 percent

As it continues its efforts to reign in harmful pollution from diesel engines, the Environmental Protection Agency – through an $85,000 grant from its SmartWay Transport Partnership – is participating in a demonstration tomorrow by the Southwest Clean Air Agency of a new technology that will dramatically reduce toxic emissions from a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railyard in Vancouver, WA.

The event takes place at 11:00 AM tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30, at the Amtrak Train Station north parking lot area (1301 W. 11th Street,) in Vancouver, Washington.

The EPA grant covers the technology costs of the project, which will entail running a heating system and an automatic shut-down/start up system to allow locomotive engines to be shut down during what are traditionally long periods of idling. Locomotives known as “switchers”, like the ones in this yard today, will idle everyday, anywhere from 10-14 hours per day. They will idle for a variety of reasons, from weather related conditions to company policy, and at a cost, in terms of fuel consumed, maintenance costs, and emissions. These “switchers” typically remain in rail yards to push and pull other locomotives around and are often very old, averaging 20-25 years old.

A typical locomotive switcher consumes up to four gallons per hour while idling, consuming over 12,000 gallons per year. In extremely cold weather, below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, this switcher will consume up to 10 gallons per hour.

Locomotive idling emissions on some diesel engines can be as high as five (5) tons per year. The technology to be demonstrated and implemented tomorrow can potentially lower those figures by up to 90 percent, thus reducing the emissions of a variety of locomotive emissions, including oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, carbon dioxide and other toxic air emissions. The device also will greatly reduce the noise associated with idling trains.

Specifically, each retrofitted locomotive will use a Diesel Driven Heating System (DDHS) from Kim Hotstart Manufacturing Company of Spokane, Wash. and a SmartStart system from ZTR Control Systems of Minneapolis. The DDHS allows an idling locomotive to be shut down by heating the locomotive engine coolant and oil, charging the batteries and powering the cab heaters. The SmartStart system automatically shuts down and starts up the locomotive engine to reduce fuel use and emissions while working seamlessly with the DDHS from Kim Hotstart.

A comparison estimate from Kim Hotstart of the Diesel Drive Heating System (DDHS) compared to a standard locomotive shows a dramatic reduction in fuel and oil consumption. A standard locomotive uses approximately 24,966 gallons of diesel fuel a year compared to 3,121 gallons using the new device. The annual fuel cost at idle for a standard locomotive is $19,973 compared to $2,497 with the DDHS. In addition, oil consumption for a standard locomotive would drop from an average of approximately 250 gallons a year (and $1650/year) to 31 gallons ($205) when using the DDHS system.

Two years ago, the U.S. EPA selected Kim Hotstart's DDHS for its first funded project to reduce locomotive idling. BNSF stepped forward and took a leadership role in installing the devices on locomotives in their switchyard in Chicago. The project demonstrated that an idling locomotive could be shut down and save over 14,000 gallons of fuel per year while eliminating over two tons of emissions per year and reducing noise by eight to 15 decibels.

“The EPA places a high priority on reducing diesel emissions” said John Iani, EPA Region 10 Administrator, in Seattle. “We hope and trust that with the success of this project, this technology will be applied nationwide and thus improve air quality and people’s lives around the country’s railyards.”

EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership is a voluntary program with the ground freight industry, both rail and truck. The program’s goals are to help industry conserve fuel, thereby resulting in reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas, as well as other pollutants like oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter. A major component of the SmartWay Transportation Partnership is reducing long duration idling.

For more on the EPA’s Clean Diesel efforts visit:

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