Hybrid Technology in Locomotives

Did you know that according to the EPA 6% of the diesel engines in America are deemed “railroad”? ie: Locomotives or smaller railyard “Shunters”.

What’s more:

Diesel locomotives released nearly 900,000 tons of NOX in 2002, about 8% of mobile source NOx emissions.27

8% of all mobile sources… marine, road, and construction. Not bad considering there are only around 19,000 locomotives running in America compared to the millions of cars and trucks on the road.


So you can understand why government agencies including the EPA, Transport Canada and their counterparts in the EU have been drafting regulations limiting the emissions allowed from locomotives.

Transport Canada released a report in 2002 that analysed the voluntary emissions cap that the rail industry followed states the following:

The current [2002] and planned emission standards in force in the United States and the European Union were examined and reported on. In both cases, the trend is toward ever more stringent limits. This trend is motivating the development by the primarily U.S.-based engine and locomotive manufacturers of new fuel efficient, emissions reduction technologies that will eventually be deployed when the Canadian railways purchase new locomotives.

Which brings me to todays story on the Locomotive engine company RailPower at the CBC.

Shares of RailPower Technologies Corp. rose 12 per cent after the company released its 2004 results and announced a deal to convert up to 35 Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives to hybrid energy technology.

This is a great sign of progress. In order to make real progress in combatting emissions it makes the most sense to cut the biggest contributors first, as they will make the greatest effect. This strategy is often criticized for being detrimental to business, but in the case of the Rail industry, if the can both reduce costs and meet stringent emissions standards, then why not use them?

Apparently CP Rail agrees.