Government should regulate locomotive emissions, says CTA

by Canadian Shipper

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has released a statement saying that yet another new study for Environment Canada is evidence that a voluntary agreement by the Canadian railways to reduce air pollution is not working, and that the federal government should impose the same tough environmental regulation on locomotives as it does on trucks.

The report was conducted by the consulting firm International Transportation Technology (ITT) and it also suggests that railway emissions are being under-reported and that though the higher power locomotives may be increasing fuel efficiency, they are also contributing to a relative increase in emissions.

Unlike truck engines and fuels, emissions from railway locomotive engines and diesel fuel are not regulated in Canada, says the CTA. Since 1995, the railways have been operating under a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and Environment Canada. But in 1999, the power to regulate railway emissions was transferred to Transport Canada and transport minister, David Collenette will decide whether or not to regulate the railways by the end of this year.

The ITT study examined the emissions of the 1,744 locomotives in Canadian freight service during 2000. It concluded that ‘since the MOU was entered into, there has been considerable change in the Canadian locomotive fleet, particularly with the introduction of higher-powered more fuel-efficient locomotives replacing the older units on a two-for-three basis. Despite consuming less fuel for the power produced, the newer diesel engines produce more emissions per unit of fuel consumed.’

The CTA says that although comparing the fuel efficiency of trucks and locomotives is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, it has been the underpinning of railway environmental policy, and the report appears to weaken that position.

The study also suggested that the emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx) were being under-reported by about seven per cent per year: ‘it is apparent that a new average NOx emission factor should be established to reflect the changing characteristics of the Canadian locomotive fleet.’

According to ITT, ‘the results of the study for the Canadian railway industry would be quantifiable increases in capital and operating costs (while) the benefits to the railways, on the other hand, are considered intangibles and difficult to quantify; hence, the reason the Canadian railways are reticent about any consideration of regulation and obligatory compliance.’

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