Union Pacific unveiled a new train on Wednesday designed to cut emissions by over 80 percent.
The company is planning on using the Green Goat at its switching station in Fresno to move cars from one train to another. Built by RailPower Technologies Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, the diesel-electric hybrid engine is designed to emit 16.5 fewer tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides per year than a standard train engine. It will also reduce diesel fuel use by 50 to 80 percent.
Union Pacific has been testing the engines in several locations around the country, and plans to use more in the coming months. John Bromley, a spokesman for Union Pacific, said the Green Goat is a "light switching" engine that is used in rail yards rather than for cross-country hauling. The goal is to introduce the technology in rail yards near urban areas, where pollution affects the greatest number of people.
"That's where you get the most bang for your buck," Bromley said.
That was also the goal of the San Joaquin County Air Pollution Control District, which gave Union Pacific a grant of $700,000 for leasing the engine. RailPower spokesman Nigel Horsely said the hybrid engines sell for $800,000.
District spokesman Anthony Presto said his organization has given over $90 million in grants to various businesses and organizations since 1992, with the goal of spending money in ways that will lead to significant reductions in air pollution.
Trains can be significantly more efficient and less polluting as a way of moving freight than trucks.
However, Presto said trains still contribute 26 tons of nitrogen oxides per day to the air in the San Joaquin Valley. By comparison, the Valley's motor vehicles -- including all passenger cars, buses and freight trucks -- produce 204 tons a day.
Green Goat engines are built with the frames of older locomotives, giving them an old-fashioned appearance. They operate on a similar principle as hybrid cars, using battery power for low-speed stopping and starting.