Railway cuts costs and greenhouse gas emissions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Railway cuts costs and greenhouse gas emissions

by Danielle Wagner

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Iowa Northern Railway was awarded a grant worth more than $300,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The railway company used the grant to develop more fuel efficient locomotives called "slugs."

It's basically a locomotive with the diesel engine removed. It's wired to another locomotive, so it has the same pulling power of two locomotives but with the fuel expense and emissions of one.

Dan Sabin with Iowa Northern Railway said two slugs will be added to the fleet.

"We expect it will reduce our fuel consumption by half a million dollars a year just by these two slugs added to our fleet and that's about an 18 percent savings a year for us," said Sabin.

Sabin said he budgets $3 million a year just for fuel costs. In addition to fuel costs, it saves on diesel emissions.

"Transportation is one of the biggest sources of energy we use in America, so we make energy savings in transportation and we're saving all through the economy. Diesel emissions is a serious issue in eastern Iowa. So getting diesel emissions out of the air is good for all eastern Iowans, especially children and the elderly," said Karl Brooks with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Brooks said this new approach fits with new standards for diesel engines, which hopes to improve air quality across the country.

Sabin said the technology has been around for a long time, but it's not always easy for smaller companies to implement.

"For an industry we tend to shy away from a lot of environmental concerns because a lot of cost associated with it we can't always do but this is a great example how we can be kind to the environment, reduce fuel burn and save money," said Sabine.

The two slugs should be fully operational by the end of July. They'll be used on the rail route between Waterloo and Manly, which runs 24-7.

The goal is to have four more slugs ready by this time next year.

The EPA told us one reason Iowa Northern Railway got the grant is because it's considered innovative in the railroad industry. Other railroads watch what Iowa Northern does and will hopefully move in the same direction.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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