The engines are branded ‘Eco’ locomotives for their operating efficiencies in reducing emissions and fuel consumption. More than $19 million in grant funding through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Programme (CMAQ) made the $30 million public-private partnership to replace Norfolk Southern’s entire Chicago yard locomotive fleet possible. The new units feature a stylistic green paint scheme with an Illinois-shaped icon and the slogan “Working Together for a Cleaner State.”
“These locomotives will be rolling billboards in Chicago for years to come of one of the finest examples of collaboration between public and private partners to think and act big on diesel emission reduction technology,” said Norfolk Southern Vice President Mechanical Don Graab. “The bottom line is cleaner air quality for Chicago residents. We thank the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning for their partnership in helping us achieve this goal for our locomotive fleet.”
The 3,000-horsepower engines meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s strict Tier-three emissions standards for locomotives. NS plans to put 15 of the locomotives to work at its five major Chicago rail yards by the end this year. The units are expected to prevent the release of 7.58 tons of particulate matter and 196 tons of nitrogen oxides pollutants annually while using less fuel compared with older switching locomotives.
“In programming federal CMAQ dollars for the metropolitan Chicago region our agency uses a competitive review process to seek the most meritorious projects,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Executive Director. “These locomotives will reduce particulate matter emissions by 76%, significantly benefiting the region’s air quality.”
“Illinois EPA is proud to have sponsored this Norfolk Southern locomotive repower project,” said Ryan McCreery, Illinois EPA Deputy Director. “The CMAQ funding provided through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the match provided by Norfolk Southern is a great investment in Illinois’ air quality and will result in significant emission reductions for the Chicago region.”
Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said: “This type of innovation is a good example of how we can strengthen our state’s robust transportation network and improve our environment at the same time. The funding that made these locomotives possible will provide an enhanced quality of life for the region’s residents and make Illinois an even better place to live, work, and do business.”
Norfolk Southern designed and built the locomotives at its Juniata, Pa., locomotive shops, using components from Electro-Motive Diesel, a division of Progress Rail Services, a Caterpillar company.
“More than 1,000 engineering and manufacturing employees working for Electro-Motive in LaGrange designed and manufactured the engines, electrical lockers and various other components on this ECO locomotive,” said Progress President and CEO Billy Ainsworth. “This locomotive is a tribute to our dedicated employees and their commitment to sustainable solutions that improve the world where we live.”
Norfolk Southern is taking additional steps to reduce emissions in Chicago by pairing three of the ‘Eco’ units with ‘slugs’ – engineless locomotives equipped with traction motors that add emissions-free pulling power – and installing plug-in engine heating systems to eliminate locomotive idling in collaboration with U.S. EPA Region V.
Earlier this year, NS introduced 10 ‘Eco’ locomotives at its Atlanta yard, and next year plans to add three more engines at its Macon and Rome yards in Georgia with additional CMAQ grants.
As the nation’s largest rail centre, Chicago plays a vital role in Norfolk Southern’s rail network. NS operates more than 100 trains daily through the city, connecting Chicago and Illinois businesses and communities to markets across the nation and world. Across the state, Norfolk Southern employs 1,625 people and operates a network of 1,256 rail miles.