As part of the 108th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Management Association, held in Raleigh during June 22-15, 2015, several dozen attendees visited the North Carolina Department of Transportation Capital Rail Yard. NCDOT owns locomotives and passenger cars operated by Amtrak and dispatched by Norfolk Southern for twice-daily roundtrip service between Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. NCDOT is pioneering efforts to reduce locomotive emissions. Over the last eight years, NC State has conducted research to quantify the real-world emissions of train operations and to help NCDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration identify strategies for emissions reduction.
As part of the tour, Dr. H. Christopher Frey and Ph.D. student Jiangchuan Hu demonstrated how Portable Emission Measurement Systems are used to measure real-time emissions from the 3,000 horsepower “prime mover” engine of a locomotive. Frey and his team have measured the activity, energy use, and emissions of all six locomotives in NCDOT’s fleet. This research has established new measurement procedures, enabled comparison of how much emissions change if a person takes the train instead of drives their own car, and enabled evaluation of the effect of engine rebuilds, biodiesel fuel, and operator behavior on actual emissions under real-world operating conditions. Further work is planned in the coming year to measure the effectiveness of retrofitted emission controls to be installed on a locomotive.