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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.

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