The announcement is hailed by representatives across the borough of Queens, which is littered with rail yards, power plants and other pollutants.
The locomotives will be transformed through a partnership between CSX Transportation, the New York & Atlantic Railway and Waste Management of New York, and are expected to be operational in late 2013. Creating green locomotives is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC sustainability initiative.
“These retrofitted locomotives demonstrate the city's commitment to sustainable transportation and green technology,” said Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Seth W. Pinsky in a statement, “that will benefit local residents and employees alike, while also allowing the railroad operators to run more efficient operations and provide cost-effective transportation services to area businesses.”
According to the EDC, re-powering a locomotive involves removing an old engine and replacing it with a newer, cleaner propulsion system. The single diesel engine is replaced by several smaller generator sets that can be activated when a train is working at full power and deactivated when it powers down.
The ability to control the amount of power used greatly cuts down on fuel consumption and pollution.
According to the EPA, one in 10 New York City children suffers from asthma. The train conversions are expected to save roughly 31,000 gallons of fuel per year and to remove 32 tons of nitrogen oxides from the air – the equivalent of removing 4,300 cars a year off the road.
One freight boxcar can carry the equivalent of three or four tractor-trailer trucks, according to the EDC, and the New York City rail system takes an average of 260,000 truck trips off the road per year.
The announcement came a month after Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley announced that local legislators successfully negotiated with CSX Freight Corporation to install two new hookup sites in an effort to reduce the rumbling, noise and odors from outgoing freight trains plaguing residents in Middle Village.
“As train use increases throughout the city, I have received many concerns from my constituents living around the rail corridor,” Crowley said. “This grant will help bring these train engines into the 21st Century and help create a rail infrastructure that will be quieter, safer and protect the environment.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside, where another rail yard is located, said anything the city can do to take trucks off the streets is a step in the right direction.
“Children in Queens have some of the highest rates of asthma in the nation, so everything we can do to limit pollution in our air is something I support,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “This $2-million grant will also help take trucks off our congested road ways which will also help improve our air quality.”