VW Mitigation Trust Funding Available to Short Lines in Calif.

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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The Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust for California has approximately $55 million in funding available to support “statewide combustion freight and marine projects that replace or repower equipment to the cleanest commercially available internal combustion, hybrid or zero emission technologies,” the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) reported in its Nov. 30 Views & News newsletter.

According to ASLRRA, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) is seeking to deploy VW Trust funds that short lines may use as a non-federal match for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) CRISI grants. Their Zero Emission Rail Operation (GO ZERO) Program team is working on a CRISI application by the state that will “bundle applications to repower or replace diesel locomotives at multiple railroads with zero emissions locomotives.” This bundled application, ASLRRA says, will only be for zero emissions solutions and only for upgrading or replacing motive power that is 2300 HP or less and only for railroad operations in California. No other CRISI-eligible scope, such as trackwork or structures at railroads, may be a part of this application.

Interested short lines, ASLRRA says, should work with their locomotive vendor(s) to secure quotes, specifications and data. Then they would apply for the VW Trust monies to be offered as non-federal match to the CRISI grant request. Short lines will need to complete a detailed application to provide GO ZERO with the information about their project for the CRISI application. There is a very short deadline—within December—for interested short lines to apply for VW Trust funding and to participate in this bundled CRISI application. To learn more, California railroads can start at CARB’s GO ZERO website.

“CARB does understand that some short lines will prefer EPA Tier 4 diesel solutions, rather than immediately or wholesale adopting zero emissions locomotive technology,” ASLRRA reported. California railroads may apply directly to the VW Trust Program for funding that can be used as non-federal match for CRISI for Tier 4 locomotive elements of a CRISI application.

The railroad could then use that match, if awarded by the Trust, as part of their own application for CRISI funding. With this path, if a railroad wanted to include other eligible CRISI elements into the same application, such as trackwork, they would need to provide non-federal match for those elements from other eligible sources. To pursue VW Trust funds for their own independent CRISI application for Tier 4 diesel locomotive projects, California railroads can visit the VW Mitigation Trust page.

The next round of FRA’s CRISI grant program is expected to open by January with a 90-day window for submittal of applications.

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