CSX introduces low-emissions locomotive

CSX Transportation's newly retrofitted, $1.4 million, low-emissions, fuel-conserving diesel locomotive gleamed as it was put on display for visiting dignitaries at Camden Yards Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning, it will be hard at work at the grunt labor of pulling trains apart and pushing them together at the gritty CSX rail yard in Curtis Bay. CSX officials said it might not get another visit to the ballpark for a long time.

"It will go to work," said CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan. "This is probably as clean as it will be."

Nevertheless, the sparkling navy blue GenSet engine had its moment in the spotlight Tuesday as CSX executives and government officials gathered to celebrate the arrival of the low-polluting locomotive — the first of its kind in the Baltimore market and the 21st in the country, according to CSX.

The locomotive, which is essentially new from its platform up, is a joint investment of CSX and the federal government, which provided 65 percent of the funding through the Obama administration's stimulus program.

The new locomotive, which is expected to produce roughly 80 percent less nitrogen dioxide and soot than existing engines, will soon have a companion in Baltimore's rail yards. The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it will provide $975,000 toward the cost of another low-emissions engine for CSX's use here. The railroad will match that investment with $425,000.

In addition to reducing nitrogen and soot pollution, the new engines are expected to use less fuel and emit 25 percent less carbon dioxide — the chief suspect in climate change — than existing locomotives.

"It really is a three-way benefit for the environment," said Susan S. G. Wierman, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association, a 10-state nonprofit group that is a partner in the purchase of the locomotive introduced Tuesday.

CSX Vice President Louis E. Renjel said that because its purchase was a joint venture with the association, that engine would remain in Maryland and not be moved throughout the system.

According to CSX, the GenSet locomotives have been retrofitted with three small diesel engines rather than the one large one on previous locomotives. Railroad officials said the engines don't always need their full power.

"For smaller jobs, we can use one or two engines, thereby saving fuel," said CSX human resources executive Lisa Mancini.

The GenSet locomotives are manufactured by National Railway Equipment of Mount Vernon, Ill., and their engines are made by Cummins Engines of Seymour, Ind., said Carl A. Gerhardstein, CSX assistant vice president for environmental systems.

Gina McCarthy, assistant EPA administrator, called the new diesel technology "the kind of American ingenuity we all need to support."

McCarthy said that for every $1 spent on such technology, society receives $13 in public health benefits.