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Union Pacific and GE Running Green Locomotive Technology Tour

Union Pacific and General Electric are staging a Green Locomotive Technology Tour to showcase current and experimental technologies to reduce locomotive emissions.

GE is currently in discussions with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the level of NOx reductions for locomotive emissions that will be mandated as part of an upcoming notice of proposed rule making (NPRM). The rule will require reductions in both particulate matter and NOx from new locomotives as well as requiring retrofits of some older locomotives.

GE’s discussion with EPA concerns the level that is technologically achievable and sustainable for the useful life of the locomotive. EPA has stated a 75% reduction in NOx is achievable and sustainable. GE is countering that a 65% reduction is more technologically sustainable over the life of the locomotive.

GE was the first to bring to market locomotives—the Evolution Series—that met the EPA’s January 2005 Tier 2 emissions standard. The Evolution Series met the increased environmental controls without increasing fuel consumption. More than 1,500 Evolution units are in service today. GE also has a hybrid freight locomotive in development, with a prototype due later this year.

The Green Locomotive Technology Tour will wind through California from 20 -28 February, with planned stops in West Colton, Fresno, Stockton, Roseville, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

At each stop, UP and GE representatives will brief federal, state and local air quality officials, regulatory and elected officials, and high school students on the companies’ emissions reduction technologies. Guests will also receive an overview of fuel conservation initiatives and railroad safety practices along with an on-board tour.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical over-the-road truck emits three times more NOx and particulates per ton-mile than a locomotive. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, if just 10% of intercity freight now moving by highway were shifted to rail, 2.5 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted into the air.

The trains featured on the technology tour are:

  • GE Evolution. GE Transportation invested more than $300 million and eight years of research and development in the GE Evolution Series over-the-road diesel locomotive. The result is an evolutionary diesel locomotive that incorporates the best of existing, proven diesel locomotive engineering with new advanced technologies. To date, Evolution Series technology has yielded 24 US patents, 13 patents pending and 18 invention disclosures.

  • Genset switcher. UP is pioneering the new low-emission Genset switch locomotive for use in rail yards. The locomotive uses modified, Tier 3 certified off-road diesel engines and is expected to reduce NOx and particulate matter emissions by as much as 80 to 90 percent while achieving a 16 percent reduction in fuel consumption. The railroad began testing a prototype of the Genset in Long Beach in 2006; the first production unit was delivered to the Los Angeles Basin rail yards in January 2007; UP expects to have more than 160 Gensets in operation by the end of 2007.

  • Oxicat long-haul locomotive. UP is field testing an experimental oxidation catalyst (Oxicat) filter on a high-horsepower long-haul locomotive built in June 1989. The Oxicat, which operates much like a catalytic converter on today’s cars and trucks, was installed inside the diesel engine’s exhaust manifold to reduce emissions. During static testing using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, particulate emissions were reduced by approximately 50 percent with the Oxicat installed. A yearlong field test of the Oxicat is underway in the Los Angeles area. This is North America’s first older long-haul diesel locomotive modified with this particular after-market technology.

  • DPF low-horsepower yard locomotive. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) has been retrofitted on a low-horsepower UP yard locomotive built in November 1982. The DPF uses high temperature silicon carbide blocks to trap particulate matter in the exhaust and lower emissions. During static testing, particulate emissions were reduced 80 percent with the DPF installed. A yearlong field test of the DPF is underway in UP’s Oakland rail yard. This is the North America rail industry’s first experimental use of after-market technology on a yard locomotive.


Frank O'Donnell

It's hypocritical for GE to spend so much on advertising and propaganda about its locomotives, while lobbying behind closed doors against important EPA standards aimed at reducing train pollution. See yesterday's very accurate story in the Wall Street Journal.

Tim Russell

Humm seems from what it says above they are lobbying to reduce the standard by 10%. Me thinks your a bit harsh.

Stan Peterson

This is a fine approach to cleaning up the existing rail locomotives. Unlike the auto fleet , I believe the locomotive fleet has a much longer lifespan than an average of 12 years. So the uncleaned machines will be polluting for 20 or 30 years. Wonderful!

It is also predictable that some cynical Greens won't ever be happy. Instead of celebrating the 65% improvements for existing fleets, that could be obtained, the EPA has a set a standard that isn't being met by anybody.


The result is that the existing locomotive fleets won't be retrofitted and will continue to be 65% dirtier.

Once again, the enemy of the good is unachievable perfection!

So we end up with more pollution. Why shouldn't the bureaucrats who proposed the impossible, be fired or charged with all the pollution generated by the cleanup not undertaken.

Its would be called putting responsibility where the idiocy resides.

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