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Green Locomotive Technology Tour

Union Pacific Green Locomotive Technology Tour

and Alameda Corridor Trip to ICTF

February 24, 2007
Copyright 2007 by Richard Elgenson

Over the last several years, Union Pacific Railroad has moved towards replacing their locomotive fleet with more environmentally friendly power.  The Green Goat locomotive has been tested and used in switch yard applications around Southern California for several years.  General Electric Transportation Systems (GETS) and Electro Motive Diesel have been producing Tier 2 compliant locomotives for over the road operations and railroads have been ordering them.  Last year, Union Pacific began testing several retrofit programs on two different locomotives, the first being a switcher and the other an over the road engine.  On February 13, 2007, Union Pacific announced a "Green Locomotive Technology Tour" to be co-hosted with General Electric Transportation Systems which was to visit various locations in California.  I elected to visit the tour at Los Angeles Union Station, and, in an effort to be "green" on a personal level, took an easy public transit trip from my near my home in Long Beach via the MTA Blue and Red Lines.  Once at Union Station, the tour had a check-in table outstide the baggage/recreation car "Council Bluffs".  Once I was checked in, the hostess introduced me to James Barnes, Union Pacific Railroad, Director of Media Information and Green Tour project manager, who provided me with a press kit.  Mr. Barnes invited me into the baggage car and described the exhibits on the interior walls of the car.  Information exhibited ranged from the reasons for the Green Technology Tour, to economics, statewide impact, and environment impact. Other graphics depicted diesel technology as it related to the most modern locomotives being built and the retrofit of older locomotives for fuel savings and emission control   The track technology exhibit was staffed by Paul Dannelly, Union Pacific Railroad, General Director - Maintenance of Way.


Mr. Dannelly explained the importance of well maintained track as an integral part keeping a railroad running.  Union Pacific maintains a fleet of 22 ultrasonic rail flaw detection vehicles.  This technology allows flaws in the rails to be detected, accurately located, marked, and fixed.  Three cross sections of rail were shown, each having been successfully removed before catastrophic failure and or derailment.  The rail manufacturing process is not perfect and occassionally, impurities exist which lead to failure of the rail.  Finding these locations before failure prevents expensive derailments.  The above example had a failure which grew from right to left.  If you have access to "Railway Age" magazine, the January 2007 edition has a feautre article on the Railroader of the Year, William Wimmer, Union Pacific Railroad, Vice President - Engineering, in which he describes his loss of a job at Chicago and North Western Railway for replacing problematic jointed rail on a siding with second hand continuous welded rail.  Mr. Wimmer has been with Union Pacific since soon after and heavily involved in maintenance-of-way equipment development.

The next exhibit stop was at the locomotive simulator in the care of Jim Westman, Union Pacific Locomotive Engineer.  Mr. Westman explained how the way an engineer handles a train may make a large difference in fuel used.  In some areas of the railroad, engineers are rewarded for saving fuel as compared to other engineers in their pool  At the simulator, I was inivted to run a parked train out onto the railroad. 

Click for all exhibit photographs

This is more challenging than it may appear since locomotives have multiple controls for forward and reverse movement and three types of braking.  Eventually our simulated train attained a 50 mile-per-hour speed.  I was pleased to see signs along the right-of-way for Operation Lifesaver, of which I am a volunteer presenter.  The next task was to stop the train, another challenging endeavor.  Having successfully run the simulated freight train, I was then ushered outside and given to Mr. Michael Iden, General Director of Car and Locomotive Engineering, who walked me along the five locomotives and described the technology of the newly manufactured units and retrofit of the older units. 

Click for all photographs of UP7606

On the point of the Green Locomotive Technology Tour train is UP 7605, a GETS Evolution Series unit in regular Union Pacific Railroad livery.  The Evolution Series (GEVO) locomotives feature a 12 cylinder prime mover versus its predecessor's16 cylinder model while producing the same 4,400 horsepower.  The new engine produces 40% fewer emissions helped by a hybrid cooling system.  This locomotive gets higher fuel efficiency via advanced fuel injection system and has enhanced microprocessor controls.  GETS claims an 83% reduction in particulates and 60% fewer nitrogen oxide emissions with the GEVO-12 engine compared to 20 year old locomotives.  In the old days, railroads would allow locomotives to idle for long periods of time which wasted fuel.  More modern locomotive models have the ability to shut off after a set period of time.  In cold wintertime areas, the modern locomotive and start and stop its prime mover to keep its internal fluids from freezing.  GETS has produced 1500 GEVO's in the 3 years it has been available.  According to the GETS web site, an Evolution Series passenger locomotive is under development.  This would be good for GETS since EMD and Boise Locomotive seem to have most of the passenger locomotive market.

Click for all photographs of UP7605

GEVO locomotive UP 7605 is wearing a General Electric Evolution Series inspired paint scheme.  She had hood doors open to expose the prime mover.  GETS has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and years of research and development on this engine   According to Mr. Barnes, the unit will be repainted in the very near future.

Click for all photographs of UPY2701

Next up the line was UPY 2701, a 2100 horsepower Generator-Set or "Genset" switcher locomotive, from National Railway Equipment Company, and quite different from the others on this tour.  The GS21B model features three EPA Tier 3 700 horsepower non-road truck style powerplants which turn on and off depending on the demands of the load hauled.  Each engine is a self contained module and can be removed and replaced by a two person crew.  This type of locomotive is expected to reduce nitrous oxides and  particulate matter by up to 80%.It is projected to comsume 16% less fuel than similar use locomotives   This locomotive is much quieter than most, though it was not running at any time I was nearby.  I have seen one of these engines in my travels around the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  Union Pacific plans to station as many as 60 of these engines by the end of July 2007 in the Los Angeles basin to replace many older switcher locomotives.

Click for all photographs of UPY1378

Next in line was UPY 1378, an EMD MP-15 switcher locomotive producing 1500 horsepower built in the early 1980's and overhauled in 2006.  She is retrofitted with an after market hood top box to filter exhaust.  This process is similar to an industrial scrubber to clean manufacturing process gasses.  In the box is a silicon carbide blocks which attracts particulate matter and at periodic times, the particulate matter is burned off  as carbon dioxide.  This switcher, tested in Oakland California, is outfitted with remote sensors to monitor the DPF system operation and global positioning system technology to monitor the diesel particulate filters..  This engine also uses "ultra-low sulfur diesel" fuel.  The railroad is now using this fuel for intrastate locomotives in California.

Click for all photographs of UP2368

Our last stop was UP 2368, a 1989 EMD SD-60M developing 3800 horsepower which was also overhauled in 2006.  This locomotive has been retrofitted with an "Oxidation Catalyist" or "Oxicat" aftertreatment filtering canister inside the exhaust manifold to turn particualte matter into carbon dioxide and water. It features an insulation  "blanket" over the top of the manifold.   The exhaust mainfild interior works much like an automotive catalytic converter.

This concluded the tour which enabled me to peruse the exterior of the rest of the train which was off limits to anyone except crew and invited guests.  The train consisted of UP Heritage passenger equipment with a baggage/recreation car, power car, sleeper cars, two dome cars and the "Idaho" theater car.  Click for all photographs of the Heritage Cars Consist

Group picture outside Council Bluffs:  Left to right James Barmes, Union Pacific Railroad, Director of Media Information, Scott Moore, Union Pacific Railroad, Assistant Vice President and General Manager of Public Partnerships, Mike Iden, Union Pacific Railroad, General Director of Car and Locomotive Engineering, Paul Dannelly, Union Pacific Railroad, General Director - Maintenance of Way, Lanny Shmid, Union Pacific Railroad, Director of Environmental Operations Safety.

The Green Locomotive Technology Tour train at Los Angeles Union Station was open from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM and was scheduled to travel to Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) in Long Beach immediately after the open house.  The $55 million ICTF opened in 1986 as a near-dock rail yard.  The train would travel through the Alameda Corridor, a completely grade separated railroad route linking the downtown Los Angeles rail yards and the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  Click for all photographs of the Alameda Corridor trip to ICTF


Union Pacific Railroad Web Site

Union Pacific Green Locomotive Technology Tour press release

General Electric Transportation Systems Evolution Series

Operation Lifesaver

Richard Elgenson RailNews Site