Union Pacific's Environmental Advantage

UP 9900, A New Locomotive That Tests Emissions-Reduction Technology

Since August 2012, Union Pacific has used an advanced experimental locomotive at our J.R. Davis Yard in Roseville, Calif., to test three emissions-reducing technologies: exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC), and diesel particulate filters (DPF). UP 9900 is the signature unit in a series of 25 locomotives that Union Pacific is testing in California.

Union Pacific engineers worked closely with locomotive manufacturer Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) to reduce the standard freight locomotive engine size in UP 9900 to create the space needed to install these technologies. Union Pacific and the California Air Resources Board will jointly analyze the locomotive’s emissions-reductions performance over the next 18 months and we anticipate an 85 percent reduction in particulate matter. Years in development, UP 9900 is based in Roseville and will be used for operations in northern California.

Trains remain the most fuel-efficient way to transport bulk cargo on land. A single Union Pacific train can replace 300 trucks carrying the same load. If just 10 percent of the nation’s long-haul freight currently moved on highways was diverted to rail, annual fuel savings would exceed 1 billion gallons. According to the EPA, trains emit an average of 75 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than trucks.

In 2012, initiatives in the building industry reinforced rail’s environmental value. Recognizing rail is more fuel-efficient than trucking, the International Green Construction Code and the National Association of Home Builders Residential Green Standard now recognize the value of rail for shipping over long distances.

Improving Fuel Efficiency

In 2000, on average, we could move a ton of freight 375 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel. By 2012, our initiatives helped improve that to 480 miles per gallon. We continue to upgrade and increase the fuel efficiency of our locomotive fleet. Union Pacific uses a three-pronged approach: improving operations, incorporating technology and engaging employees.

Improving Operations

Since 2000, we have invested approximately $6.5 billion to purchase locomotives that meet the EPA’s updated emissions guidelines and an additional $200 million to upgrade older locomotives. During this time period, Union Pacific retired more than 2,750 older locomotives and overhauled or rebuilt nearly 4,600 diesel engines with emissions control upgrades.

Nearly 90 percent of our 8,400 locomotives are certified under existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 emissions standards. Our investments in new “switching” locomotives, which are designed to move trains or cars within a rail yard, also have helped us improve fuel efficiency.

Incorporating Technology

For years, Union Pacific has pioneered locomotive technology research and set the standard for railroads across the country. We have worked with locomotive suppliers, governmental organizations, engineering researchers and others to explore nearly a dozen technological improvements to our locomotive fleet in the past decade. Some, like Union Pacific’s pioneering work in the Genset locomotive, resulted in worldwide application. Others laid the foundation for further research and development.

Employee Engagement

The employees operating our locomotives are key players in reducing the amount of fuel we use. Through simulator training and peer coaching, locomotive engineers are honing their train operating techniques to conserve energy. Additionally, the employee-driven Fuel Masters Unlimited conservation program provides incentives for fuel-saving efforts. Other employee efforts under way include assigning power by tons per axle to reduce fuel consumption and locomotive wear, and increasing use of distributed power to reduce in-train forces and drag while saving fuel and train starts.