Trains to face tougher engine emission standards

OTTAWA — Canadian railways are finally being dragged on board the green bandwagon.

Ottawa and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which provides a framework for rail companies to commit to lower-emission, EPA-mandated engines by 2010.

The government will begin enforcing the new standards in 2011.

A MOU brings the rail industry closer in
line with trucking, environmentally.

Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Via Rail and Go Transit are all part of the MOU. They have collectively agreed, by 2010, to purchase only new, EPA-certified locomotives. Previously, railways did not have to prove engines met EPA standards.

The agreement also requires railways to retire 130 medium-horsepower locomotives built between 1973 and 1999; upgrade existing in-service locomotives when they are overhauled; adopt greenhouse gas targets that will reduce GHG emissions; and prepare an action plan for GHG emissions reduction.

Ottawa will work with the rail industry to reach the MOU goals before putting official regulations in place in 2011.

The MOU brings the rail industry closer in line with trucking, which has been complying with tough EPA engine rules since 2002. The compliance standards have been gradually increasing since then; and by 2010, truck and engine manufacturers will virtually eliminate particulate matter and NOx in those new engines.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has been lobbying Ottawa for years to equal the environmental playing field between the competing modes.

Trucking companies have been arguing that railways be made accountable for emission controls and pay their fair share for environmental initiatives.

The RAC will also encourage its railway members to make “every effort to reduce their collective GHG emissions from railway operations.” Specific GHG targets were set for major freight railways, short line railways,
intercity passenger rail and commuter rail services.

The 2010 GHG reduction target for the major freight railways represents a 44 percent improvement from 1990-2010, the RAC says.

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