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Case Study: Port of Richmond GenSet Locomotives

In 2009 the Port of Richmond California joined with Honda Motor America, AutoWarehousing Co., BNSF and TransDevelopment to develop a state-of-the-art automotive port-of-entry at the Point Potrero Marine Facilities. An environmental document was prepared which included a comprehensive study of all vehicular emissions including ships, trains and trucks, as well as the vehicles being driven within the distribution facility. Due to the requirement of including marine vessel emissions in the overall air quality assessment, the project was identified as having significant potential for air quality impacts. A wide variety of air quality mitigations were evaluated across all categories and a Clean Air Action Plan was created for all Port operations.

Traditional methods of operating switching locomotives is to idle the engine between yard assignments. This practice can generate significant diesel emissions, and corresponding expenditures on fuel. In a voluntary effort to reduce fuel consumption as well as air emissions, the BNSF purchased several GenSet locomotives for the Richmond Rail Yard, and committed one of the units to the automotive port-of-entry operations at Point Potrero. GenSet (Generator Set) units are ultra-low emissions, EPA certified diesel locomotives. These specific units incorporate three low-horsepower engines operated by smart chips which only engage the locomotive’s power when needed, versus having one large engine operating at all times. This makes for significant advantages over conventional diesel electric models for non long-haul operations. Utilizing the GenSet locomotives allows for a fuel savings of about 20% compared to existing diesel locomotive technology. Compared to a traditional locomotive in the same application, GenSet units have been shown to reduce NOx by 58%, HC by 94%, CO by 37% and PM by 80%. Specifically for the Port of Richmond, the use of GenSet locomotives will reduce NOx emissions in the Port vicinity by approximately 2.14 tons per year and diesel particulate matter by .05 tons per year.