Cleaner and greener in New Orleans

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) and the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) a National Clean Diesel Funding grant that will cover 40% of the cost of retrofitting one diesel-electric switcher locomotive with a Tier 4-compliant prime-mover.

NOBP will be issuing an RFP (request for proposals) in June or July for a vendor to retrofit Wabtec/MotivePower Industries MP1500D no. 1505 with a new diesel engine. The RFP will be advertised for 30 days. “This will be the first locomotive of its kind in the New Orleans gateway,” NOPB said. “This eco-locomotive will meet ultra-low emitting standards and result in immediate air quality benefits such as reducing ozone precursors, diesel particulate matter, fuel consumption and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions. It will boast a sleek new paint scheme with green accents.”

The EPA grant application was executed jointly by Port NOLA and NOPB, whose ownership transitioned from the City of New Orleans to Port NOLA on Feb. 1, 2018. Community groups, city officials and members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation—Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. John Kennedy, Rep. Steve Scalise (all Republicans) and Democrat Cedric Richmond—supported the grant application.

NOPB and Port NOLA have each piloted emissions reduction initiatives, including the Port of New Orleans Clean Truck Replacement Incentive Program (Clean TRIP) and NOPB’s locomotive idle reduction plan, as a part of their respective strategic plans. “Now partners, they are working together to foster programs that address both the maritime and rail space,” NOBP said.

“With Port NOLA and NOPB now fully aligned, we are able to make strategic investments that provide air quality benefits for the community while providing superior service to our users and Class I partners,” noted Brandy D. Christian, CEO of NOPB and President and CEO of Port NOLA. “Port NOLA’s commitment to sustainability drove the decision to apply for this EPA grant, and we look forward to seeing the eco-locomotive on our system.”

“EPA’s Clean Diesel grants fund cleaner, more efficient transportation to help protect the environment and keep our economy growing,” said EPA Regional Administrator Anne Idsal. “Port NOLA and NOPB’s efforts to upgrade its locomotive fleet will contribute to improved air quality and benefit the New Orleans community.”

NOPB is a Class III S&T (switching and terminal) railroad serving the Port of New Orleans and local industries. The NOPB is a neutral switching carrier with direct connections to six Class I railroads, for which the railroad moves local and intermediate freight through the New Orleans rail gateway. The NOPB is a diversified company, with a full-service car repair shop, locomotive shop, track maintenance and repair division and railcar storage capabilities.


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