"LNG technology has the potential to offer one of the most significant developments in railroading since the transition from steam to diesel in the 1950s," said CSX Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Oscar Munoz. "That change took many years to complete and began with a lot of unknowns, and this one is no different. But aggressively exploring this technology is consistent with CSX's focus on tomorrow, its longstanding commitment to efficient and environmentally friendly transportation, and its role in helping to promote U.S. energy independence. GE Transportation has the know-how to provide the right LNG solution for our locomotive fleet and help us better understand the feasibility of LNG technology from a safety, operations and economic perspective."
The companies say natural gas-fueled locomotives can travel longer distances without refueling stops, as well as provide environmental and economic benefits. Adoption of natural gas-fueled locomotives will make freight rail an even more attractive transportation solution and furthers the industry's ability to absorb traffic from the nation's highways in an environmentally efficient way.
"Locomotives are at an inflection point in balancing engine performance with efficiency and adherence to emissions standards," said Russell Stokes, CEO of Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation. "As we enter a new era of energy sources and what's possible for rail transport, we are excited to partner with CSX and lead the LNG transformation for the industry."
GE Transportation has been testing low-pressure natural gas technology since spring of 2013, and is working closely with CSX and other Class I railroads. Last September a 2013 GE Transportation/Norfolk Southern Railroad Sustainability Symposium discussed current industrywide LNG projects.
GE and CSX field tests are expected to begin in 2014. GE says its NextFuel™ kits allow railroads to use natural gas as a fuel source, reducing emissions and potentially reducing fuel costs while not compromising performance. An Evolution Series locomotive equipped with the NextFuel Natural Gas Retrofit Kit meets US EPA Tier 3 emission standards.
CSX will be working during the next few months to develop a test plan and secure regulatory concurrence. For CSX, GE Transportation will deploy its new NextFuel™ Natural Gas Retrofit Kits that enable existing Evolution Series locomotives to operate with dual fuel capabilities.
GE Transportation is part of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co.
CSX and GE said they will also work on the continued development of LNG technology for other classes of locomotives to promote gains across a larger portion of the CSX locomotive fleet, and will work closely with key stakeholders and agencies across government to ensure safety, realize environmental and other benefits, and advance LNG deployment.