Press Releases

New York City Will Create Two State-of-the-Art Green Locomotives, Thanks to Grant From The US EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) along with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that two conventional freight locomotives will be repowered with state-of-the-art low-emissions diesel technology, thanks to a $2 million grant through the 2011 round of the EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. This award is the result of strong support from a number of federal, local, and state officials, including Congressman Jerry Nadler, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member James Vacca, and Council Member James Gennaro. These locomotives will remain in the City’s freight rail network and will be transformed in partnership with CSX Transportation and the joint work of the New York & Atlantic Railway and Waste Management of New York and are expected to be operational by late 2013. 

“Creating state-of-the-art green locomotives is in line with several of the Bloomberg Administration’s key priorities: making our solid waste management plan more sustainable, investing in infrastructure and using innovative technology,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “Thanks to the grant from the EPA, these locomotives will help us make New York City greener and greater. Thank you to EPA Regional Administration Judith Enck for her help in making this happen.”

“These retrofitted locomotives demonstrate the City’s commitment to sustainable transportation and green technology 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. We thank the EPA and our elected and community partners who recognized that this grant would be a win-win for New York City,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky.

“Reducing air pollution from diesel engines helps decrease asthma attacks, respiratory problems, premature deaths and lost work days due to illness,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Childhood asthma rates exceed national rates, and one in 10 New York City children has asthma. EPA clean diesel programs are eliminating tons of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and are providing enormous health benefits.”

Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty said, “This innovative grant is consistent with the city’s approved Solid Waste Management Plan, which changes the way the city manages solid waste by moving from a truck based export system to a predominantly rail and barge based export system. The repowering of these two locomotives will make rail export cleaner and more energy efficient.”

The repowering of a locomotive involves removing the old engine from a locomotive and replacing it with a newer, cleaner propulsion system. Both pieces of equipment will be repowered with Generator Set (GenSet) technology. In this new configuration, the single conventional diesel engine is replaced with several smaller generator sets that can be activated when the locomotive is working at full power and deactivated when their power is not needed. This ability to tailor horsepower greatly cuts down on fuel consumption and pollution. These two conversions will save an estimated 31,000 gallons of fuel each year and remove an expected 32 tons of nitrogen oxides and 0.64 tons of particulate matter from the air annually. Removing 32 tons of nitrogen oxides from the air is the equivalent of taking over 4,300 personal automobiles off of the road each year.

“The EPA should be applauded for their commitment to green technology. This program provides vital funding that helps move to cleaner and more efficient energy. It should help improve air quality in residential neighborhoods that freight lines pass through every day,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

“This grant will enable us to introduce extremely low-emission locomotives to New York City,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “This innovation will reduce diesel emissions, improve energy efficiency and decrease noise pollution. The repowered locomotives will leverage advanced technologies to generate significant environmental and economic benefits to the entire downstate region. Rail is by far the greenest way to move freight, and this $2 million will help make rail freight even cleaner. I am very pleased to have been able to help secure this important grant for our city.”

Representative Nydia M. Velázquez said, "Low-emission train technology holds great promise for cutting both pollution and traffic congestion in New York. Improving our local environment with these trains will help reduce health problems associated with poor air quality."

“Any steps to green our freight transit system are very welcome, especially rail, which is already one of the most efficient modes,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “I applaud the EPA and its local partners for enabling this conversion, and look forward to more such actions in the future. The health of our communities and planet depend on carrying out more of these sorts of initiatives to pave the way for a cleaner, more energy efficient future.”

“The introduction of these more efficient, cleaner repowered freight engines is good news for Queens. Not only is this move consistent with the City's solid waste transfer program, which removes trucks from our roads and highways, but it also ensures that the emissions from the railroad engines will be reduced. However, even as these changes improve our rail system and help protect our environment, they must be implemented in such a way as to minimize the impact on the quality of life of those who live near active railroad tracks and rail yards,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

"Our long-suffering residents have heard from their electeds how we made progress addressing their concerns regarding railroad activity adjacent to their homes. To alleviate the noise and odor issues for the well-being of our people, agreements with our local freight rail companies and the Department of Transportation involve installing two new hook-up sites located farther back from the current stop to reduce the noise of idling trains so people can sleep, and to install lights under the 69th Place overpass for rail workers to perform safe maintenance. This latest good news -- that New York City has received a grant from the U.S. EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program to create two green locomotives operational by late 2013 servicing Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx -- means that retrofitted, environmentally friendly trains will move out of the Glendale and Bronx Rail Yards to help reduce truck traffic, diesel emissions, the carbon footprint and air pollution through those counties, while improving the movement of waste and of goods," said Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens 15 SD)

“This grant is a significant step towards repowering a fleet of locomotives that are in need of efficiency upgrades,” Assemblyman Hevesi (D-Queens) said. “CSX and NY&A will be able to operate a fleet of rail cars that create less noise, pollution, and run with great fuel efficiency. These improvements will substantially cut back on air quality issues the area is currently experiencing. This is an important development for both the railway companies and the people of Queens” 

I am happy to hear the EPA dispersed this grant. For years residents of the Glendale and Middle Village communities have had to deal with noxious odors, chemicals, noise, and unsightly smoke and debris. Re-powering these two conventional freight locomotives with environmentally sound low-emission cars will help alleviate many of these concerns from local residents,” said Assemblyman Michael Miller.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey said, "This is great news for the residents of Middle Village and Maspeth. This new GenSet technology will help make the railroad a better neighbor for those who live adjacent to the Fresh Pond Rail Yard and along the rail lines through our community, as well as benefit the environment by improving the air we breathe."

“As train use increases throughout the city, I have received many concerns from my constituents living around the rail corridor. This grant will help bring these train engines into the 21st Century and help create a rail infrastructure that will be quieter, safer for residents, and protect the environment,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

“I am thrilled that the city will receive this innovative grant from the EPA. The grant will modernize two locomotives within the city's vital freight railroad network, making them fuel-efficient and cleaner. The revamped, green locomotives will benefit New Yorkers for many years to come. Over time, they will consume massively less diesel fuel and prevent the emission of air pollutants linked to heart and lung ailments, protecting public health and the environment" said Councilman James F. Gennaro, chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee.

“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. Converting technology to transport freight is a positive step in the right direction. This 2 million dollar grant will also help take trucks off our congested road ways which will also help improve our air quality. As a Council Member I am happy to help support positive initiatives like this,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

"New York has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country, and replacing older, dirtier locomotives with greener cars can’t help but improve air quality for the residents of this city. These trains will mean less debris in the air and less noise in our neighborhoods. That's good news for kids, seniors and the environment. I am excited about the potential these new trains can have and hope they are only the first step in the direction of cleaner, more efficient rail traffic," said Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

The first retrofitted locomotive will be based at the Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale, Queens and operated by the New York & Atlantic Railway for service in Queens and Brooklyn. The locomotive is currently in active service on the Bushwick and Lower Montauk branches in Brooklyn and Queens, serving over 20 local businesses including the DSNY Varick Avenue truck-to-rail waste transfer station, operated by Waste Management. Both New York & Atlantic and Waste Management will cover the additional conversion costs and after repowering, this will be the first locomotive in the region that meets the US EPA Tier 4 emission standard which is not required until 2015.

The other green locomotive, operated by CSX Transportation, will be based at the Oak Point Rail Yard in Port Morris, Bronx and will service the Bronx and Queens. Already in active service making up and pulling the daily interchange trains that travel between the South Bronx and Queens. This locomotive will meet the US EPA Tier 3 emission standards and will complement the four GenSet locomotives that CSX already uses in the area. CSX is participating financially and supplying one of its locomotives suitable for retrofit.”

“This locomotive adds to CSX’s fleet of environmentally-advanced locomotives. The unit’s fuel efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, and reduced emissions make rail transportation an even more environmentally responsible choice for moving goods”, said Carl Gerhardstein, CSX’s Assistant Vice President-Environmental Systems.

“NY & A supports the acquisition of this lower emission locomotive. This unit will join NY & A’S existing locomotive fleet which is currently in the process of being upgraded with state of the art idle minimization technology. NY & A will work with the other participants to finalize the construction and acquisition of this lower emission green locomotive,” said Paul Victor, President of the New York & Atlantic Railway.

“Waste Management is proud to support the conversion of locomotives to clean diesel fuel,” said Jim VanWoert, senior district manager, Waste Management of New York. “New York City’s shift to transporting its waste to disposal sites by rail instead of by truck has already helped to significantly reduce vehicular traffic and emissions. Repowering locomotives to run on clean diesel will increase the environmental benefits of rail transport.”

One boxcar on the railroad can handle the equivalent of three to four tractor trailer trucks. The New York City freight rail system takes an average of 260,000 truck trips off the road each year. Freight rail is an important part of New York City’s transportation system, providing large and small businesses the opportunity to take advantage of freight rail’s economic and environmental benefits to remain healthy and competitive. The initiative to create the green freight locomotives is directly tied to PlaNYC’s goals of improving freight movement and reducing transportation emissions in the City. Updated in April 2011, PlaNYC is the City’s long-term strategic plan to build a greener, greater New York.

The National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program awards competitive grants to fund implementation of diesel emission reduction technologies that are verified and certified by either the EPA or the California Air Resources Board. It is one of the four programs under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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Jen Friedberg
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