NASA electric research plane designated the X-57, nickname: “Maxwell”; SCEPTOR
BYD announces its first 16 electric buses sold in France; RATP trial; expanding capacity in China

Canada publishes proposed regulations for criteria pollutants from locomotives

The Government of Canada has published proposed Locomotive Emissions Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This marks Canada’s first regulation of air pollutant emissions from locomotives. The proposed regulations will criteria air contaminants (CACs), from locomotives operated by railway companies under federal jurisdiction through increasingly stringent emission standards and reduced idling. CACs include NOx; particulate matter (PM); hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO); and sulfur oxides (SOx).

The emission standards set out in these proposed regulations will also align with those of the United States. Canada and the US are also working together on approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives under the Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Background. The transportation sector in Canada generated 56.0% of all NOx emissions and 9.2% of all PM emissions in the country in 2013. Of these amounts, rail transportation was responsible for 11.1% of NOx and 4.6% of PM emissions.

The rail industry has been working with the Government of Canada through a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to reduce emissions since 1995. These voluntary agreements have resulted in railway companies adopting commercially viable and feasible technologies and adjusting operations to reduce emissions.

According to the 2013 Locomotive Emissions Monitoring Program report, the Railway Association of Canada reported that NOx emissions intensity from total railway operations decreased by 56.1% from 1990, while railway freight traffic increased by 69.6% over the same time period.

In October 2006, the Government of Canada issued a Notice of intent to develop and implement regulations and other measures to reduce air emissions to regulate air emissions, including those from the rail sector. As a bridge to the regulations, the government and industry signed additional MOUs.

The United States started regulating CAC emissions from locomotives in 2000. These regulations were updated in 2008. The US regulations set emission standards for NOx, PM, HC, CO and standards for smoke opacity which become increasingly stringent over time. Current Tier 4 regulations apply to locomotives manufactured in 2015 or later.

The proposed regulations. The proposed regulations would be aligned with the existing US regulations. The US regulations set emission standards that vary according to the type of locomotive and its year of original manufacture. The proposed Regulations would incorporate the U.S. emission standards and associated testing procedures by reference.

Based on the type of locomotive and the year of original manufacture, new locomotives would be required to meet the increasingly stringent tier level standards for NOx, PM, HC and CO emissions, as well as smoke opacity. These standards would be incorporated by reference to the US regulations.

Locomotives would be required to meet the applicable tier level standards for their entire useful life and, in certain cases, for their entire service life. The useful life is the period during which the locomotive is designed to properly function in terms of reliability and fuel consumption without being remanufactured, and during which a locomotive is required to comply with all applicable emission standards. The minimum useful life of a locomotive is 10 years. Service life is the total life of a locomotive and ends when the locomotive is permanently removed from service. The typical service life of a locomotive is 40 years.

Line-haul locomotive emission standards
Year of manufacture Tier Standards (g/bhp-h)
1973–1992 0 8.0 0.22 1.00 5.0
1993–2004 1 7.4 0.22 0.55 2.2
2005–2011 2 5.5 0.10 0.30 1.5
2012–2014 3 5.5 0.10 0.30 1.5
2015 or later 4 1.3 0.03 0.14 1.5

Switch locomotive emission standards
Year of manufacture Tier Standards (g/bhp-h)
1973–2001 0 11.8 0.26 2.10 8.0
2002–2004 1 11.0 0.26 1.20 2.5
2005–2010 2 8.1 0.13 0.60 2.4
2011–2014 3 5.0 0.10 0.60 2.4
2015 or later 4 1.3 0.03 0.14 2.4

The cost-benefit analysis estimates that the proposed regulations will cost approximately $162.3 million over 10 years, assuming a 7% discount rate and including costs to the railway companies and to the federal government.

It is expected that the proposed regulations would result in a reduction of locomotive emissions of approximately 79.6 kilotonnes and 1.4 kilotonnes of NOx and PM emissions, respectively (or a reduction of 9.3% and 8.0% of NOx and PM, respectively), over a 10-year analysis period.

The total quantifiable benefits are monetized at approximately $244.9 million over 10 years, assuming a 7% discount rate. This does not include a valuation of the health benefits due to limitations on the availability of the geographic density of these emissions. The net benefits are estimated at approximately $82.7 million over the first 10 years of implementation of the proposed Regulations. Overall, benefits exceed costs by a ratio of approximately 1.5:1, according to the government analysis.

Stakeholders and the public will have until 15 September 2016 to provide feedback. After considering all comments received, Transport Canada will finalize the regulations and publish them in the Canada Gazette, Part II.



Without adequate testing stations and inspectors, those regulations will go the same way as rails and locomotives condition regs...i.e not very far to reduce GHG, pollution and accidents.

Profit margins lead not safety, GHG and pollution.


We are talking serial diesel hybrids here. So, emission controls can be expensive and may require exhaust filtering. Nevertheless, it should be done. This will help with GHG on land; however, if you are really serious about cleaning up GHG, clean up the exhaust on the huge bunker oil burning diesel motors aboard ships. Some say one container ship produces as much emissions as 1,000,000 cars.


They would need DPF, and an SCR system, it wouldn't be too costly upfront, but there probably would be downtime associated with it, which could hurt.

Ocean going vessels are horrible polluters, they absolutely should target those.

Trains are very effective/efficient movers of things... There wouldn't be much they could do other than add regenerative breaking and emission control systems to curb any major issue.

Boats have a lot they can do, like going to a hybrid setup, natural gas, or actual diesel.


We need to electrify our railways like they do in Europe and Asia.

James McLaughlin

Lad, if you have some links supporting your assertion that rail locomotives are hybrids these days I would like to see it. There are very very few rail hybrids from what I know. Most are diesel engines (with only starter batteries) with an electric transmission instead of mechanical gears. That is very different than a hybrid. Yes there is some electric braking but the energy is lost as heat and not stored in batteries usually.


There were a few hybrid locomotives built. It does make some sense to make a hybrid switch locomotive as it spends most of it's time stopping and starting. See There was even a fuel cell version built for testing. Just for you, HarveyD :)

GE built a hybrid version of their main line locomotive but that does not make much sense as you need to both store and draw far too much energy in normal operation


Electric locomotives in increasing use for passengers and freight in EU, China, Japan, So-Korea, Switzerland and part of Russia could be the best (cleaner) solution.

USA and Canada are very far (decades) behind.

The comments to this entry are closed.