OTTAWA, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The railway industry has demonstrated its
commitment to a cleaner environment by meeting a cap on locomotive emissions
even though it is handling a lot more freight and passengers.
A report from Environment Canada and the Railway Association of Canada
says that for 2005, the railways came in at 114.86 kilotonnes of nitrous
oxides, just under a voluntary emissions cap of 115 kts. "This compares with
117.05 kt emitted during 2004 despite increases of 2.8 per cent in revenue
traffic and 1.1 per cent in fuel consumption." The report credits a series of
on-going initiatives including the introduction of new locomotives that meet
the tougher "emissions standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
The cap was set in a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with Environment
Canada signed in 1995, said Cliff Mackay, President and CEO of the RAC.
"Since 1990, railway freight traffic has risen by an average annual rate
of 2.7 per cent," the report said. "This is significantly higher than the
1.5 per cent per year growth over the 1990 volume predicted when the agreement
was signed, and upon which the emissions cap of 115 kt per year was based." In
other words, the railways have handled a 30 per cent increase in traffic but
managed to stay within the air pollution limits established by the cap.
A new five year MOU has been agreed to tentatively with Environment and
Transport Canada, Mackay added. It envisages further reductions in greenhouse
gas emissions along with a lowering of air contaminants such as nitrous oxide,
sulphur dioxide and carbon particulates.
There will be an industry-government management committee "that will look
at ways to make the railways even more energy efficient," he continued. That
will include funding for some research projects. There is also work underway
on a carbon trading credit for manufacturing companies that make increased use
of rail shipments to reduce their overall company emissions.
The Environment report notes that 930 of the 2,991 locomotives operated
by Canadian railways during 2005 met the stricter emissions standards. The
number will rise steadily during the coming years as freight and passenger
railways acquire additional new locomotives and retire older ones. The
railways are also rebuilding some of their existing fleet to improve their
In addition to the new locomotives, Mackay said the freight railways have
gained operational efficiencies through bi-directional running agreements
across the country. They enable the railways to move heavier loads over easier
grades, reducing the amount of fuel required to move the freight.
Meanwhile, the railway industry is waiting for the details of the federal
government's eco-freight strategy to emerge so it can see what programs might
be applicable to rail transport, Mackay elaborated. Announced by Transport
Minister Lawrence Cannon, the program provides up to $27 million in three
freight transport programs designed to encourage carriers to test or acquire
new technologies as well as work in partnership with other modes to reduce
The minister said the government wants to reduce the greenhouse gas
emissions from the transportation sector. "We all have a role to play ... in
the development of cleaner transportation systems, practices and
technologies." While improving the environment, it is also important to ensure
freight transportation companies will be able to contribute to the country's
long-term economic health, he added.
In response, the RAC said the railways would continue their efforts to
reduce fuel consumption and attract more freight to the rail mode to reduce
Rail carries 65 per cent of surface freight and generates only three per
cent of surface transport emissions, Mackay said. "We will encourage and
assist our members to become familiar with the new program and apply, as
appropriate, to constantly improve their operations and customer service."
The RAC prefers the MOU approach to reducing greenhouse gases compared to
the United States's system of regulating locomotive output, pointed out Mike
Lowenger, RAC's vice-president of operations and regulatory affairs. "Under
the MOU, we can better manage how we use the locomotives."
The railways have taken other steps to reduce their fuel consumption, the
Environment report notes. "The outfitting of locomotives with automatic engine
stop/start devices and low-idle settings has been accelerated....
Non-locomotive initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and, therefore,
emissions included acquisition of additional higher capacity freight cars and
lower-weight aluminium gondola units, as well as operational fluidity
improvements such as infrastructure upgrades and flange and top-of-rail
lubrication. Emphasized also was staff training focussing on conservation
awareness and improved train-handling procedures.
The tentative MOU calls on the RAC to encourage its members to adopt any
fuel conservation standard that may be implemented by the EPA. The railways
follow the U.S. agency's standards in light of the extensive operations they
have in the United States and cross-border between Canada and the U.S. It also
commits the association to continue encouraging its members to adopt fuel
The agreement would also require CN, CPR, VIA Rail and GO Transit to
acquire only new and freshly manufactured locomotives that meet EPA standards;
retire 130 medium-horsepower locomotives built before 1999 and upgrade medium
and high-horsepower locomotives undergoing rebuilding to EPA emissions
It sets CO2 emission limits for mainline, shortline and passenger
locomotives by 2010 and commits government and industry to holding a
conference "on emissions reduction and environmental best practices in the
Mackay pointed to a variety of initiatives already undertaken by the
railways to reduce greenhouse gases. GO Transit has ordered 27 new
locomotives, that are more powerful, more fuel efficient, and more
environmentally friendly than its current units.
As well, it has an option to buy 26 more, to replace and expand its
fleet. Each unit will be able to haul 12 passenger cars, two more cars than
the current locomotives, which means carrying up to 300 additional commuters a
trip. GO has also stopped the practice of opening all doors at long dwell-time
station stops to avoid the warm coach air being displaced by cold air in the
winter or the cooled air by hot air in the summer.
Avoiding these rapid temperature changes saves energy and reduces the
burden on the train's power generator to reheat or cool the air in the
passenger cars. To further reduce energy loss, new and refurbished coaches are
being fitted with upgraded insulation and LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting
to replace incandescent lighting. As well, trains are no longer left idling
when they come out of service and are stationed in the yard.
Via Rail has reduced fuel consumption by 25 per cent per
passenger-kilometre since 1990, which translates into a 13 per cent energy
saving. It purchased 21 new cleaner-running locomotives in 2001. It has
developed a prototype for rebuilding the engines of its older F-40 General
Motors locomotives in order to meet the highest North American environmental
standards for rebuilts.
CPR has equipped more than 60 per cent of its locomotive fleet with fuel
saving devices. It has also implemented a progressive fuel management program,
which is designed to reduce fuel consumption through improved train handling
techniques and the use of fuel saving devices on locomotives.
CN is focusing on improving the efficiency of its rail yards through a
computer program called SmartYard that makes decision making on switching cars
between trains easier and more effective. The technology is being tested on a
pilot-project basis at CN's MacMillan Yard in Toronto.
It is often said that the easiest energy to save is that which is
currently being wasted. As it is reduced, so are emissions. At the same time,
the industry can see that energy conservation pays. For further information on
freight and passenger rail's environmental performance, contact
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