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Our Locomotives: Moving Ahead Toward a Cleaner Future

Retirements. They’re bittersweet moments where we celebrate a legacy while at the same time anticipating a new and exciting future. Metrolink recently celebrated a retirement that’s more representative of our future than our past: the retirement of Engine 882 – the final Tier 0 locomotive remaining in our fleet.

This really matters: Engine 882 will be replaced by a Tier IV locomotive – the cleanest-burning diesel engines available. Tier IV locomotives are 85% cleaner than the Tier 0 locomotives they replace, and Metrolink is the first commuter railroad in California to deploy them – an important step towards our zero emissions future.

By summer, 40 of Metrolink’s locomotives will be Tier IV.  Tier IV locomotives are compliant with the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards and reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85 percent compared to older locomotives. And in addition to their environmental benefits, Metrolink’s Tier IV engines are more powerful with up to 40 percent more horsepower than Tier 0 locomotives.

To understand the importance of this milestone, we asked for perspectives from Metrolink, Chief Operating Officer Eric Hosey, Deputy Chief Operating Officer Rod Bailey and Director of Sustainability Lisa Colicchio.

What is the history of Engine 882?

Bailey: “Engine 882 was built in 1995 and purchased by the Philip Morris company for use in a ‘tobacco train.’ Metrolink bought it in 1998 and it has operated well over 1 million miles of revenue service on every line on our system.”

What does the retirement of Engine 882 mean for Metrolink and its commitment to environmental quality?

Hosey: “The retirement of 882 means that the agency has completed a major milestone of leaving old and in this case “dirty” technology behind.”

Bailey: “Removal of Engine 882 marks the end of an era of non-tiered (Tier 0) emission-rated diesel locomotives Metrolink owns and operates. These units were designed around the necessary horsepower to pull loaded passenger cars. Fuel efficiency was predicated on drawing the most amount of horsepower per gallon of fuel burned. The byproduct of this was the emissions they produced.”

Describe the importance of new, cleaner technology for Metrolink going forward?

Colicchio: “Tier 4 low-emission locomotives will help keep our environment clean, improve public health and enhance the quality of life for Southern Californians.”

Where do cleaner burning locomotives fit into the entire picture of improving Southern California’s air quality?

Colicchio: “Transportation is the largest source of California’s GHG emissions—mostly from light duty passenger vehicles and with air pollution on the rise, time is of the essence to take action. Metrolink is committed to a zero-emission future and the 85% reduction of locomotive emissions from our service is instrumental toward achieving the state’s overall plan to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030.”

Are there plans to retrofit Tier II engines with new technology that could make them even cleaner?

Hosey: “We are currently exploring different ways to retrofit the Tier II locomotives into at least Tier IV or even cleaner – perhaps zero emission.”

If you look five years into the future, how does Metrolink’s fleet look in terms of protecting environmental quality?

Hosey: “Our five-year look-ahead is having nothing less than Tier IV locomotives in the Metrolink stable providing revenue train service.”

Colicchio: “Metrolink is dedicated to lowering regional emissions by reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled from the road and operating the most environmentally responsible technology.”

What happens with Engine 882 now that Metrolink is finished with it?

Bailey: “It will be decommissioned and sold at auction. It cannot be returned to service unless it’s updated to Tier IV or above standards. Some companies have shown interest in modifying the units to zero emissions, such as battery or hydrogen fuel cell technologies.”

And that is our hope – especially in the spirit of Earth Day!

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