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Union Pacific’s Greened-Up Trains

by Kate Trainor on December 17, 2007

ultragreenlocomotive Union Pacifics Greened-Up Trains

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a mission to improve air-quality in the state. The Commission created incentives for Union Pacific to lower emissions of its fleet operating throughout Texas.

Union Pacific’s response was to bring on board 98 new "Generator-Set" or "Genset" locomotives. The Gensets are powered by ultra-low emissions off-road diesel engines. The engines generate electricity that is transferred to the motors that drive the locomotive’s wheels.

The new locomotives represent a reduction in nitrogen emissions of about 60 percent and a fuel reduction (and therefore greenhouse gas reduction) of about 30 percent over the older train technology.

The Gensets are produced by Railpower Technologies Corp. of Montreal, Quebec. Union Pacific has been running these locomotives in California since 2002.

Take a great invention and make it greener.

Via our friends at EcoGeek.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 brian goldner February 5, 2008 at 11:58 pm

amtrak in california is actually pretty good, largely b/c the state subsidizes a few routes. The San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner feature quick trains (with roll-on bike racks!), frequent departures, and comfortable seats.
What’s better, Californians have the opportunity to vote on a HIGH SPEED RAIL system THIS NOVEMBER!!! Seriously, if you live in Cali, you better vote yes for world class transport!


2 RhapsodyInGlue February 9, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Actually, Amtrak in California is… it depends. For instance going from downtown LA to downtown San Diego is simply one train and runs about 2hr45min to 3hr, which I would think is quite competitive with a car during most daylight hour traffic.

However, going from Los Angeles to San Francisco is either a 12 hour journey up the coast on a train or a combination of train and one or two bus segments that make the journey in 9 1/2 to 10 hours. This costs as much as a plane and even with airport security this is much, much slower. A car would shave about 4 hours off this journey.

I do know the Nov ballet initiative would correct the LA to SF problem quite nicely… though expensively. I’m curious as to why there is no inland route from LA to SF rather than the bus to Bakersfield to hook up with train into SF. I can’t imagine there aren’t tracks going from LA to Bakersfield… or aren’t there?


3 Weston Ruter February 10, 2008 at 7:23 pm

I’m a big fan of riding Greyhound. I make a trip between Portland and Seattle once every couple months, and Greyhound is cheaper than Amtrak, and it is also often faster. There are direct non-stop routes between Portland and Seattle, and besides, vehicles can travel 70MPH on I-5 in Washington, so we’ve often passed Amtrak on the way. I’ve also been disappointed with Amtrak delays coming up from LA.

Let’s ignore the common (immature) stigma associated with riding Greyhound for the sake of the environment.


4 Paul Koenig February 11, 2008 at 4:03 am

Someday I hope the US has a rail system as good as the one we had during the great depression. I just read where France came out with it’s fourth generation of TGV. Wow!


5 Bartholomew Schmeckelstein March 4, 2008 at 6:44 am


Actually, no, there aren’t direct tracks from LA to Bakersfield because of the little thing called “The Grapevine.” Trains can’t climb a steep grade like that without major tunneling – hence why the surfliner runs the coast route.

I’ll be voting for a high speed rail initiative. even if it is the wrong decision at this point with our budget crisis – we need to do something. Big-picture wise, we know it is feasible and that there is demand for it, so why not set the standard for other states to do the same.

That and after a SF link, it would be AWESOME to have a high speed rail run to Vegas – 40 bucks and get there in 1.5-2.5 hours? Where’s the craps table.

Of course, lets not forget that the tribal gaming concerns would never allow that to happen as they pretty much own the state legislature.

Freights go all the way out to the Tehachapi loop to go north through mojave, then into bakersfield.
And The SD to LA / OC surfliner rocks. If I need to go to an angel game on a friday, it beats hands down any other mode of travel as I-5 is a crawl northbound.


6 Simon Hova March 4, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I agree with Weston Ruter, if you have a choice for a sub-300 mile inter-city trip between air, plane or bus, the bus is the best option. The Northeast Corridor (containing Washington, DC, New York and Boston) is a perfect example, the plane takes too long with airport security checks, the train is too slow and almost as expensive as the plane, but the bus has very frequent departures and at a very cheap price. Its not a great option, but it is the best one out there.


7 Stanley Probstein May 6, 2008 at 12:03 am

My wife and I travel Amtrak from Tampa, Florida to New York State and have done so for the past two years. Service and food is excellent but comfort in the sleeping compartment is not without its vibrations and discomfort,especially when you’re trying to get some sleep overnight. Some items inside the compartment don’t work, such as volume control for background music,etc. Otherwise we can’t compalin. I have read that Amtrak has funding for improvements but so far we haven’t seen any improvements such as a smoother ride on rails Amtrak leases from the freight lines.It’s the old say ing “It’s who you know that can get the job done”. Here’s an email we just sent to Amtrak:We bring things to your attention only because that it’s important for you to make necessary changes. First of all we travel Amtrak for it’s convenience and in most cases it’s comfort. we have been using Amtrak for the past three years traveling from Tampa, Florida to Saratoga Springs, New York and our nearby Summer home in Broadalbin, New York. First we mention the good things and we begin with service which is excellent but alas because our New York city train cannot be boarded in Tampa we must be bussed to Orlando to board our train.The reason being that the Silver Meteor used to go through Tampa but was always delayed due to the fact that freight trains had the priority because they for the most part own the rails. So our train had to be rerouted around Tampa to Orlando for the reasons stated.As we said the service and food aboard the train is excellent. In New York City your lounge is also excellent as we await our upstate New York connection.So the downside to the scenario is the comfort aboard the train. As we have noted for the past three years your floor plan in the sleeping car is to say the say least uncomfortable.Leg room is at a minimum and the floor plan is quite compact.We have been told that same dimensions exist for both compartment A and B. We had suggested going into your disabled compartment which indeed does the have the satisfactory leg room and a more suitable floor plan. The reason for not choosing it was that these rooms are directly over the wheels and becomes a very trying ride which also applies to the other compartments. There simply is just too much jarring and vibration making it difficult to get some rest overnight. Now let me relate to you through a description of my wife’s experiences of train travel in the past. As an an upstate New York resident she constantly used the New York Central. I won’t mention how many years ago this occurred but the sleeping cars had ample leg room and in fact even had a circular couch right in the middle of the car. The rest of the service was of course very good. Then train travel declined and airline service increased so the comfort and service was given to the airlines who are subsidized by the Federal Government. Then when trail travel went under, Amtrak was created so that those still wishing to ride by train could do so. Priority was given to certain sections of the country due to tourism. Better cars were used and the rail ride was comparatively smoother and accommodations better in sleeping cars. That was before, now train travel has increased due to the fact that airline passengers were upset with constant delays to their flights. So they have turned to Amtrak to get them to and from from their destination with good accommodations,service and convenience. And now can you honestly say that everything mentioned cannot be improved. Yes we know the rails are owned by the freight lines and they be should be the ones to repair the rails. At the same time Amtrak leases the rails and thus should be given better rails for the money they are paying the freight lines. As for the sleeping cars, well as stated earlier your so-called better cars are located in tourist areas and not in Florida to New York City.The country is sliding into a recession because of mistakes made by credit card companies and other lending institutions. There is also a war against terror going on for which I’m sure safety precautions are in effect by Amtrak. With all these considerations doesn’t it strike Amtrak that as long as people are coming back to train travel that the improvements mentioned could be and should be done? Thank you for your time this time until next time when we hope Amtrak will implement the improvements. Best regards to your staff and please respond to these comments at your earliest convenience.. Stanley Probstein for my dearest wife Claire… What do you think?


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