Tacoma Rail is committed to being a responsible steward of the environment. In addition to using environmentally sound practices in our daily work procedures and projects, whenever possible we implement technologies that help us reduce our energy consumption and lessen our environmental impact.

We've undertaken several major eco-friendly efforts, including:

Idle reduction technology
Tacoma Rail has installed idle reduction technologies on all but one of its 14 locomotives. Idle reduction lowers our fuel costs and reduces emissions considerably. These technologies work by actively managing the idle time of the locomotives in a way that can't be done manually. Idle reduction also extends the life of the locomotive by shutting the locomotive down to a ready-use state.

For example, we have four locomotives (two GP38-2s and two GP40-2s) that were equipped with idle reduction technology in May 2007. The equipment was provided by Kim Hotstart Manufacturing Company and ZTR Control Systems. Now, instead of idling, the 2000 horsepower GP38-2s and 3000 horsepower GP40-2s automatically shut down when not in use. The Hotstart Diesel Driven Heating System (DDHS) uses a small 27 horsepower diesel engine to keep the locomotive engine above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and charge the batteries so the locomotive can be restarted easily.

The ZTR SmartStart system automatically shuts down and restarts the Hotstart system and the locomotive as necessary. SmartStart also records data and provides detailed fuel savings reports. The Hotstart-SmartStart combination has proven to reduce idling by as much as 90%, which in turn has reduced locomotive engine wear, fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

Over five years, the four locomotives with the DDHS:

  • Save 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel
  • Reduce fine particular matter by 3 tons
  • Reduce nitrogen oxides by 140 tons
  • Reduce carbon monoxide by 15 tons


GenSet locomotives
In August 2011, Tacoma Rail acquired a 2,100 horsepower National Railway Equipment 3GS21B-DE locomotive. Numbered 2100, the unit is equipped with three 700 horsepower diesel engines, each coupled to an electric generator. This locomotive uses only the capacity needed to do the job at hand, similar to the cylinder deactivation technology used in some automobiles. However, instead of cylinders shutting off, the locomotive starts up and shuts off individual GenSets as needed. For example, when 2100 pulls a mile-and-a-half-long intermodal train, it may use all three GenSets to pull the train successfully. When switching a few cars in the yard, it may only use a single GenSet.

Another advantage of this locomotives is its advanced wheel slip control, which allows optimum tractive effort to be applied to the rail and eliminates the damage caused to locomotives and track by wheel slip.

Repowered locomotives
In late 2011, Tacoma Rail acquired two EMD GP-22eco 2,000 horsepower locomotives. These are repowered units with new engines and other components that make them compliant with EPA Tier II diesel emission standards, as well as provide the advantages of more modern control systems. These two units, numbered 2200 and 2201, were assembled in Tacoma at Progress Rail's shops.

Ultra-low sulfur diesel

Tacoma Rail converted to ultra low sulfur diesel in June 2006. It was not mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all locomotives until 2012. Ultra-low sulfur diesel has sulfur content  of 15 parts per million (ppm) instead of the 500 ppm typical of regular diesel fuel.

Eco-tip super-stack fuel injectors
In November 2005, Tacoma Rail installed eco-tip super-stack fuel injectors on its fleet of locomotives. Advantages of the injectors include: 

• 3% fuel savings at full load
• 44% reduction in particulate matter
• 75% reduction in smoke opacity

Learn about our environmental memberships.