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Union Pacific tests more eco-friendly locomotive

Based in Roseville, 'UP 9900' uses three types of advanced technology to reduce emissions
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Union Pacific unveiled a freight locomotive that tests technologies to meet stricter regulations on emissions during a ceremony Wednesday at the J.R. Davis Yard in Roseville.

The experimental locomotive, called UP 9900, will test the emissions-reductions abilities of three types of technologies. Those technologies - exhaust gas recirculation, a diesel oxidation catalyst and a diesel particulate filter - are expected to achieve an 85 percent reduction in particulate matter emissions.

Particulate matter is a pollutant that causes negative health and environmental impacts. Tom Christofk of the Placer County Air Pollution Control District said the advanced technology will produce tangible air-quality benefits.

Based in Roseville, UP 9900 will be used for operations throughout northern California. Testing is scheduled to last through 2014.

Union Pacific representatives said the technology will move the company closer to meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's updated emission standards for new locomotives that goes into affect in 2015.

UP 9900 is one of 25 locomotives based at two Union Pacific rail yards in California that test emissions-reducing technologies. Sixteen of these units are stationed in Roseville.

Union Pacific is investing $20 million in advanced emissions-reducing technology. Some of that cost is covered by the Proposition 1B: Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program.

During Wednesday's ceremony, Christofk commended Union Pacific for developing ways to reduce its operation's impacts on the environment. He said the Placer County Air Pollution Control District and the railroad company had a "dysfunctional relationship" in the early 2000s but came together to create mutually beneficial initiatives.

One of those was a health-risk assessment in 2004 that examined diesel particulate matter and found that residents who live near rail yards in California have a greater risk of cancer. Following that study, Union Pacific, California Air Resources Board and BNSF Railway voluntarily entered into an agreement to reduce emissions.

"This was the first-ever agreement of its kind in the country," Christofk said.

He also praised Union Pacific for using low-sulfur diesel fuel and reducing locomotive idling. Since 2000, the company has achieved a 19 percent improvement in fuel efficiency, according to a company factsheet.

"The Roseville rail yard has become a nationally recognized center of innovation," Christofk said.

Union Pacific is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Roseville Councilman John Allard discussed the company's positive impact on the city - originally called Junction - through the years. He said Union Pacific now employs more than 1,000 people based in the Roseville area.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.