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New Mexico Commuter Train to Run on B20 Biodiesel Blend

The Rail Runner commuter train runs every weekday.

New Mexico’s new Rail Runner commuter train will use a B20 blend of biodiesel supplied by Amigo Petroleum, beginning immediately. The Rail Runner is one of the first commuter rail systems in the country to use biodiesel.

The Rail Runner’s five locomotives are diesel-electric MP36PH-3Cs built by Motive Power Inc. in Boise, Idaho. Rail Runner locomotives produce about 3,600 horsepower and are capable of running speeds in excess of 100 mph.

The Rail Runner Express, which began operation two weeks ago, is currently operating only between Albuquerque and Bernalillo, a distance of about 20 miles. Eventually, it will run between Belen, south of Albuquerque, to Santa Fe.

Separately, in India, New Kerala reports that the South East Central Railway (SECR) has testing a B5 blend of jatropha biodiesel to run some of its trains. The SECR bought 800 liters (211 gallons) of jatropha biodiesel from the Chhattisgarh government this month for the experiment.

The Chhattisgarh government, which is promoting jatropha plantations in all 16 districts, has set up a jatropha biodiesel plant near Raipur.

“Since July 22, two railway engines on narrow gauges are running with diesel mixed with jatropha bio-fuel. The engines have so far travelled over 500 km without any trouble. Now, we plan to raise the percentage of jatropha to 20 percent,” [Raipur railway division spokesperson Ajay Kumar] Jaiswal told IANS.

After a month, the SECR will try the biodiesel on long distance trains as well.



Only pathological morons could run commuter rail on anything but electricity.



I doubt that in all cases it's practical or economical to electrify all commuter rail lines.



Currently in US/Canada trolley bus (electric bus powered by overhead wires) cost twice as much to purchase as diesel bus (about 400 000 vs. 200 000 $). I am puzzled do understand how highly competitive and truly international US market manages to sustain this nonsense. Same with diesel commuter rail.
No wonder public transit here is in such pity state.


I'm not sure that Andrey knows what he is talking about. The Railrunner is a "commuter train" that will run from Santa Fe to Belen, which is a straight shot of about, say, ninety miles. I don't see how electricity would be superior to diesel in such a case.


electricty is cheeper than diesel and it is also better for the enviroment depending in how it is produced



An properly sized electric motor has an efficiency somewhere between 97 and 99,7%.

A combined-cycle natural gas powered electric power plant (to use some fossil fuel, instead the more obvious choice of water, solar, wind) can have a (thermal) efficiency of around 80% (when the waste heat can be used in industrial processes - note that large scale manufacturing typically doesn't move around at 100 mph), and up to 60% electrical.

A diesel engine runs, at peak efficiency, at most at 42%.

The electrical transmission system would need to operate at an unheard of efficiency of only 74% so that an electic commuter train is less efficient than a diesel train.

Also note, that a (large) central power station can afford much better (because heavy) exhaust treatment systems, as opposed to simly dumping the diesel exhaust into the air, ready for the population to inhale...




Up-front investment cost is, especially in public commuter vehicles in densly populated areas, a very minor part of the TCO.

Nevertheless, most of north america is not densly populated enough for proper public transport, and the dirty cheap gasoline and low cost SUVs make the choise easy. (Ever compared gasoline and vehicle costs between US, JP and EU?)


Pathological Morons sounds like a good name for a short-run television series. Maybe, get some Jatropha advertising. What do you think Time-Warner would charge for Speedy Gonzalez to endorse Amigo Petroleum?


I do know what I am talking about. Almost 100% of huge rail system (including very extensive commuter rail) in European part of former Soviet Union is powered by electricity. And the reason for this is very simple: it is way cheaper then diesel locomotives. Almost the same is true for EU and Japan. For some mystical reasons price of all public transit, incloding rail, commuter rail, and subway, is overblown at least 5 times in US/Canada. My bet is that this is designated cash cow for bureaucracy (in EU it is transportational fuel, in Japan – concrete construction).
Cervus: this hugely artificially overblown prices is the core reason for electrical propulsion of commuter trains being not economical at some locations, and generally the reason of poor state of public transportation in US/Canada.

You are probably new for the GCC, other vice you probably would know that I am aware of gasoline prices in Europe and Japan. For public transportation:
Cars are the best possible personal transportation. Period. It is overwhelmingly the only one working in North America, and is my personal preference. However, there are some niches (and pretty big ones), where public transportation is better.
Long range: aircraft. America has great air transportation infrastructure.
Middle range: European-style fast trains are huge time savers over car/air travel. It is certainly lacking in US.
Transportation in big cities: cars does not cut it. Subway system in big cities like NY is the must for probably 50 of US cities. It is way faster, and could be pleasure to use and very convenient.
Transportation for people who does not drive. It is for sizeable portion of population, and it is in sore state in US/Canada.



Your later comments to this discussion have been intelligent and very well thought out. But maybe when you start out calling people pathological morons you inherently generate a greater level of friction to your ideas. Probably if your last post was actually your first, moset people in this forum would have been more receptive to your point of view.

I'm just sayin' ;-)


Tim Russell

If Audrey knew anything about the American rail system he would realize that most (heavy rail) commuter trains in the US use the same rails as are used by freight trains and that those railways own the rails so they don't have the choice to use electric. Overhead electric wires would prevent them from running double stack containers etc.

Please learn some basic facts before classifing people as morons. It makes you look like an idiot.


Commuter trains universally use commercial rail system in Russia and elsewhere too. Somehow it is not a problem for them. Many lines run double-decker passenger trains too. Your arguments are merely excuses for doing nothing. Results of such policy for commercial, passenger, and commuter railways in US/Canada are well known and quite indicative. May be it is time to start learning from the “idiots” from the rest of civilized world.

Tim Russell

Do the Russian commercial rail companies use electric locomotives for freight haulage? I know many European systems do. The fact is the Commuter rail systems in many countries don't have a choice on motive power as they need to use what is there. If the lines are electrified then they can use it but otherwise they need to use diesels. Trains are still a better way to move large numbers of people rather than those people be in cars. I take big issue with you on calling people morons for providing a service that gets cars off the road and efficiently moves people to and from work. For making such a snap statement I labeled you an idiot.

Now if all the US railroads converted to electric where does all that power come from? Guess what, it'll come from more coal fired power plants because coal is plentiful in the US. What would the cost be? Who pays, higher transport cost = higher prices so we all do. The commuter rail co's would have to pay more to use the rails so higher ticket prices may = more people in autos. Since commuter rail traffic has many stops and starts and less power is needed for cruising than for starts, might it be better to use hybrid road locomotives such as the ones from Railpower ( Build a plug-in hybrid trainset that can be charged using off peak power in the low demand overnight hours?

Now you see that my arguments are well thought out and not an excuse for doing nothing. Compaired to long haul trucks I would much rather have freight moved by diesel locomotives when you look as fuel used per ton-mile. In the same way diesel commuter rail is better than a bus fleet doing the same job.

One last point, how many European rail systems are/were state owned. Most if not all of the heavy rail in the US is and always has been private companies. Big difference on how things are done. The rail systems of Europe and US evolved in very different ways.

Here are the "loading gauges" (max hight and width) of Euro railways

Here's more info from Wikipedia

For safe clearance and to still run 20+' double stacks I would guess a 22' catenary wire hight. That's a lot of structure.

Much to think about eh?


"the rail system of Europe and US evolved in very different way..."

Exactly my point. How good is "American way" is wery well known to any one who have used trains in Europe - even for short commute from airport directly to the city center. For everybody else google "Amtrak chapter 11" and you will get the idea.

And yes, European part of Russia (plus Ukraine and Belorussia and more) are converted to electricity long time ago. I am not talking about conversion of commercial rail system in US for electricity. It managements are not mentally fit to do this job. They prefer to use their locomotives - most of them are 50 years old, and sell their extensive real estate for pocket money (most of the cost earned from sales is going to soil remediation from diesel fuel spill contamination). I am talking about most obvious – running at least commuter on electricity. By itself electric propulsion is way more energy efficient, and for stop and go commuter train it is just incomparable in energy usage to diesel power. Hybrid train – come back from the clouds, man. It is only for switch yard operation, and by the way this technology was developed to commercial level by outsiders, not by rail companies.
By the way, sizable portion of our problem with city traffic is because railway companies failed to use somehow effectively their extensive rail system to commuter passenger traffic I do not buy fairy tales that GM bought and closed rail to push people to buy cars. Somehow they did not buy and close Boeing.
Meanwhile I can hear construction noise right from my home in Vancouver. It is third line of elevated rail, so called sky train, which will be run on electricity, but without electric motors. Linear electric coils will be buried between the rails, and magnetic power will move the train; during regenerative braking electric power will be returned back to the grid. Sky trains are operated by computers and there is no driver in the cabin. It cost dearly, but it worth it.

Tim Russell

Just forget it, your head is in the clouds when it comes to things I guess. Sky train sounds like light rail which in almost all cases is electric. If you were a railfan which I am but your not you would understand the differeces in systems but since your not you don't. PERIOD

Hell many railways are still using chains and buffers for freight cars to this day in the UK and Europe. Did you know this?

Well I'm done as you have a one track mind and think that electic traction rules.

Tim Russell

Sorry, gotta grind it in but if you check Wikipedia you can find out that many countries in Europe while they have more electric than here are not all electric.

SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) (National French Railway Company) The rail network currently consists of about 32,000 km of track, of which 1,500 km is high-speed track and 14,500 km is electrified.

Rail transport in Germany
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rail network of Germany As of 2003, Germany had a railway network of 41,500 km. 20,140 km were electrified.

The British railway system is the oldest in the world. It consists of almost 10,274 miles (16,536 km) of standard gauge track, of which 3,062 miles (4,928 km) is electrified.

It's the same for the rest. SO HOW DO TRAINS MOVE WITHOUT ELECTRIC POWER, DIESEL! That's how.

Some countries do have mostly electric and others do not but you write as if Europe and UK and all electric. Not so read and be informed



“For most of the first half of the 20th century the United States led the way in railroad electrification. Before the outbreak of World War II, the country had some 2,400 route-miles and more than 6,300 track-miles operating under electric power, far more than any other nation and more than 20 percent of the world's total. In almost every instance, electrification was a huge success. Running times were reduced. Tonnage capacities were increased. Fuel and maintenance costs were lowered, and the service lives of electric locomotives promised to be twice as long as those of steam locomotives. Yet despite its many triumphs, electrification of U.S. railroads failed to achieve the wide application that once was so confidently predicted. By the 1970s, it was the Soviet Union, with almost 22,000 electrified route-miles, that led the way, and the U.S. had declined to 17th place.”


Andrey et al.
It is tough to generalize about America. It is too diverse. The San Francisco area makes good use of rail for moving people. New York and Washington have impressive subways. Chicago is well suited for mass transit. But basically Americans use personal vehicles.

The American/European situation with electric trains, trains in general, and passenger transit is the consequence of social policy after WW2.

Until then American cities were much more compact and had bus, light rail, and rail service. Many working class families of average income did not have cars. Mine was one. Although car ownership here far exceeded Europe the transportation structure was not greatly different.

Gasoline in Europe was heavily taxed, cars were heavily taxed, governments controlled urban and near-urban housing construction and erected high rise heavy density clusters (most became hugely unpopular).

In the US housing growth was mostly demand driven and people opted for individual homes and ownership. They wanted out of cities cores. Gasoline was cheap, our car industry made big, inexpensive cars. And there was abundant land. Business and jobs went with them - the city hollowed out.

Connect the dots. The US is now a distributed society and depends on cars. But fuel isn't cheap and the trend is bad. The US also is amazingly quick to adapt. If we can do it this time we will probably still end up with individual (far more energy efficient) vehicles rather than trains or buses.

And the corallary: Goods and services has to get to those suburbs. And that means trucks, not rail.


tim seriously what are you talking about. yes, in russia, a lot of freight is hauled by electrics. clearance is NOT a concern of any way shape or form. you place the catenary high enough to clear and there are no issues. the pantograph is a great thing.
the only reason the US is not electrified is because no one has invested in the infrastructure. the fact that electric rail transport is more efficient, clean, and fast is simply not debatable.
i'm curious, have you ever heard of the northeast corridor? or new jersey transit? i suggest taking a look and quit making excuses for a situation which is pathetic and completely inexcusable.


p.s. irrespective of electrification, i think it's great that they are going to use biodisel in this operation.

Tim Russell

Yes it a great idea using biodiesel. Since locomotives are large you realize that they don't have a problem with storage space for fuel, one problem with using H2 for transport is the storage of the fuel so if you could produce H2 cleanly...

In California they have tested using CNG.

Trust me when I say that the RR companies will generally use the cheapest fuel source. Be nice if they would use electic in urban areas but you'd probably replace one polution source for another. See Below.

What am I talking about, look the links I provided prove that while Europe has more electric it's not all electric as Andrey would have you believe. Many countries have less than half their lines electrified. Yes I'm aware of the north-east corridor I'm am a railfan which means I'm interested in trains everywhere.

Yes as was pointed out before there used to be more electric lines in the US but do you know what many of them were, anyone, they were light/medium interurban railways. A trip to the Illinois rail museum shows the tram cars, light freight and maps showing the interurban network that existed all over the northeast. The car killed them off but for a time they provided service to many areas not served by the large RR companies.

This all started when I took issue with Andrey calling commuter rail operators morons for using diesel power. It's not there fault as they are using existing rail corridors. As I point out even if the RR companies convert to electic it might not be the best thing. Coal is plentiful in the US and since the power's gotta come from somewhere coal fired generating stations would be a likely source.

I'm not against electric rail, the GG1 was an awsome american electic loco that was used by the Pennsylvania RR and served Chicago, I'm just pointing out the problems, there's no free lunch my friends. Stationary power plants can have their emmissions scrubbed better than mobil ones but the though of more coal power plants bugs me.

Wouldn't it be great if we could have more high speed rail and get people out of short hop airline flights. Diesel or electric it would probably use less fuel per passenger mile than the airlines or cars. Most American city to city passenger rail is great if your not in a hurry. The Acela being an exception.



I think we see that well used urban trains tend to be electric but trains that cover longer distances, less frequently, share freight rails tend to diesel. Maintaining electric is not cheap and weather can cause disruption.
However as has been mentioned, something like the railpower hybrid maybe even in individual that a train could leave downtown stopping only at every fifth-tenth? stop, but "dropping" successive hybrid cars to their respective "zones". Thats all everyone stopping at every puny stop.
And biodiesel is great.

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