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Alaska Railroad curtails practice of idling locomotives

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Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012 12:17 am

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks residents routinely idle their vehicles in the deep cold to keep them warm. The Alaska Railroad has been doing it, too, keeping its locomotives running outside even when not in immediate use.

Railroad employees suggested derailing that practice, and management agreed.

The railroad issued a news release Friday stating it has curtailed the idling and will move the locomotives indoors, leading to a reduction in fuel usage so far of more than 24,000 gallons since Nov. 1 at a savings of about $80,000.

“As we gather more information and history, we expect to further validate our numbers,” said David Greenhalgh, the railroad’s director of crew management and transportation services. “The next phase will track the positive environmental impact from fewer emissions.”

Railroad employees proposed the Locomotive Idle Reduction Program in September as a way to reduce costs.

The railroad news release states moving locomotives indoors required some logistical maneuvering to find room since indoor space is at a premium in the winter.

“This is a perfect example of an employee-driven idea producing great results not only for the company but for our Railbelt neighbors as well,” said Chris Aadnesen, the railroad’s president and CEO.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins praised the railroad’s action and noted that the area’s frequent temperature inversions trap pollution near ground-level. The Alaska Railroad’s yards are concentrated in the central part of the city, in low areas.

“The health hazards of the particulate pollution are very real,” Hopkins states in the news release. “I appreciate ARRC taking steps to clean our air.”

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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