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Commentary: ‘Eco’ Locomotives are good for Georgia

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Norfolk Southern's new ''Eco'' locomotive is up to 25 percent more efficient than the train engines currently on our rails. Credit Norfolk Southern Corporation, nscorp.com

Norfolk Southern’s new ”Eco” locomotive is up to 25 percent more efficient than the train engines currently on our rails.
Credit Norfolk Southern Corporation, nscorp.com

Norfolk Southern unveiled its new “Eco” locomotive on Sept. 1 at Atlanta’s Inman Yard.

The new locomotive is up to 25 percent more efficient than the train engines currently rolling on our rails, making them even more environment-friendly.

It’s a no-brainer.

The more freight that travels on railroads rather than trucks and highways, the better off we will be.

That statement has never been truer than with the unveiling of the new “Eco” locomotive. Traditional trains carry one ton of freight 450 miles on one gallon of fuel — at least four times more efficient than trucks.

With the Eco locomotive, trains become at least five times more fuel efficient than trucks. That means cleaner air and less dependence on fossil fuels.

That’s not all.

The number of injuries and fatalities are far fewer on our rail corridors than on our highways.

With these benefits, it makes all the sense in the world to have a public and private partnership to move more freight by rail, rather than trucks.

Norfolk Southern is covering one-third of the cost of the 10 new locomotives, while the federal government is covering the remaining $38 million.

Imagine the benefits we could reap if we would take a similar approach in improving our rail infrastructure. Let’s forge a partnership between our government and the railroads to remove at-grade crossings, to improve the tracks so trains can reach higher speeds and provide more double tracks for more efficient movement of time-sensitive freight.

As part of that partnership — to make trains more competitive — railroads should allow passenger trains to operate on their tracks.

The more people we get off the roads, the less congestion and accidents we will have, the more fuel we will save and the cleaner our air will be.

I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to trains.

But seeing the new Norfolk Southern Eco locomotives, I know my heart is not lost in a nostalgic past.

Instead, it is fully grounded in an optimistic future.

Everyone wins when we move more freight — and more people — onto trains.

1 Comment

  1. writes_of_weigh September 21, 2015 10:31 pm

    Maria, Romanticism is not dead, but attempting to link eight  or ten “eco” locomotives to a rebirth of railroads is wee bit optimistic given that under suspected collusion with it’s K street lobbyists'(whom the FBI is “watching” in the matter for other substantial reasons)the U.S. railroads have “thrown in the towel” on their ability to legally operate the nations freight, commuter and (in large part) inter-city passenger rail system. You may recall that I have previously written in response to various topics which arise on this blog, about railroad safety issues and the looming December 31, 2015 implementation of Positive Train Control across most of the nations’ mainlines. This, make no mistake, is a legal deadline brought about, in no small measure, because of numerous derailments, collisions, and unsafe operating conditions, which without adequate and substantial Federal rail safety oversight, has cost far too much in lives lost, equipment lost, and Gross Domestic Product trashed. The railroads have had, by some estimates (N.T.S.B., etc…), nearly five decades to plan for and implement this life saving technology, but, have found it more compelling to entertain investors and analysts at place like Sun Valley, ID, Augusta (the Masters), GA, Winter Park, CO., Palatka, FL, Essex, MT and Brosnan Forest, SC, and numerous other entertainment venues the railroads choose to maintain as opposed to maintaining their tracks, equipment, and safety systems. About two weeks ago, curiously nearly all of the nations major railroads issued press releases, nearly simultaneously, decrying their “short time frame” to fully install and equip their operating properties with the legally mandated P.T.C. technology, and instead “cry wolf” about the costs of so doing, and instead resort to “blackmailing” our elected representatives, who we charge with enforcing mandates found in the places like the Federal Code, which if enforced, could potentially make our lives much safer, and provide for better GDP return. “Eco” locomotives will still be nice, though, even if they are being operated by our military transportation corps, or by “designated operators” under the auspices of a “new” U.S. Railway Administration.Report


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