Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Mobile sources – Part 1: Trains

320px-Acela_Express_and_Metro-North_railcar[1]The barrage of pollutants from mobile and stationary sources alike, that have entered the air, has caused considerable damage – no question, such being very costly, obviously. Quite literally, the air has taken a beating. To reiterate what I’ve said previously, our air cannot be thought of as a dumping ground. And in terms of reducing the impurity level of the air, this will be no easy feat.

So, with that, today’s message should sound familiar: Pollutant-emissions reduction.

In case you don’t already know, over the past 12 months (two-plus years, actually) much has been written on the Air Quality Matters blog in this regard.

Comparing this year’s review to last year’s, which more or less presented a smattering of notable happenings, this year I’ve decided to compile 2014’s highlights by category. Furthermore, each is broken down, first by bringing to the forefront a deficit condition followed by mention of some advancement in the area that is both noteworthy/praiseworthy and technologically significant or important.

So, without further delay, here is: “Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Mobile sources,” the mobile-sources sector, incidentally, comprised of off-road (construction equipment, etc.), on-road, rail-borne, water-borne and aviation-based conveyances.

Trains – from: “TIFFS: Sidelined ‘n’ singin’ the single-track blues” (Jan. 19).

“In 2012, there were 31.2 million Amtrak boardings. Last year added were another 400,000 more – an improvement of 1.3 percent.

“From ‘Amtrak year-over-year ridership gains impress, inspire,’ written was: ‘If evenly distributed, this would be roughly 86,575 Amtrak trips made on average per day. What this means is that this many daily trips were not made in gross polluting motor vehicles. And, this is of tremendous benefit to the air and the environment.’”

Amtrak faces an uphill climb. Indications are the railroad’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) will continue seeing capital investment while, in this regard, funding for Amtrak as a tenant running on freight railroad track could fail to materialize to any great degree if at all.

DSCN2812 (340x255)On track with emissions reduction in the railroad operating environment, brought out in “CATS: Emissions-control apparatus to cut railroad operating costs, improve air” (Nov. 19) at the heart of the program is an innovative emissions-reduction control technology designed to alter locomotive idling characteristics on 11 soon-to-be-retrofitted Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) locomotives to be assigned to the company’s Pasco and Spokane, Washington rail yards.

In the post, I wrote: “The BNSF in a news release on Nov. 13, 2014 made the announcement that ‘BNSF Railway, in partnership with Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) and HOTSTART, is retrofitting 11 locomotives with HOTSTART idle-reduction technology to reduce emissions and conserve fuel in Washington. The pool of locomotives will operate out of the BNSF rail yards in Spokane, Wash. and Pasco, Wash.’ The equipment will eliminate an estimated 22-plus-tons of emissions over a six-month period during which time said locomotives will be operating in cold-weather conditions, as pointed out in the release.”

In Part 2, meanwhile, discussed will be motor vehicles: cars, trucks and buses.

Image at top: Connor Harris

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