Tacoma Rail retrofit aims to improve air quality

Tacoma Rail will retrofit four of its locomotives with technology that will reduce emissions. Tacoma Rail, the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will share the $200,000 cost of the project. The technology will protect the engines, which don’t use anti-freeze, in cold weather.

“Normally during cold weather, engines not in use are kept idling so that freezing temperatures and condensation don’t damage them,” said Phil Hogman, who supervises Tacoma Rail’s locomotive fleet. “The technology will monitor air temperature and start the engine when necessary to protect it. It’s like a refrigerator that cycles on and off to keep food at proper temperatures.”

The system will improve air quality, save fuel — locomotives use three to four gallons an hour at idle — and reduce engine noise.
Two of the 2,000-horsepower retrofit locomotives will operate in Tacoma’s port-industrial area and two in Tacoma Rail’s Olympia service area. Tacoma Rail hopes to have the four locomotives retrofitted and in service this fall.