Want Millions More To Modernize
State lawmakers are seeking additional funds to make diesel locomotives used on local freight rail lines cleaner.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi announced last Tuesday, Jan. 28, he and more than 80 fellow lawmakers formally asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to provide $3 million in funds to upgrade outdated diesel engines owned by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and leased to New York and Atlantic Railway.
If approved, the funding would continue a project started last year to replace or retrofit locomotives classified as “Tier 0” under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for emitting excessive amounts of noise and noxious fumes.
“This retrofitting initiative has received broad-based attention and backing from the Governor’s office, as well as numerous state agencies involved in procuring the equipment,” according to a statement from Hevesi’s office.
The project upgrades diesel engines to “Tier 4” standards, reducing the emission of nitrogen oxide and particulates by as much as 76 percent. It is expected that 120 tons of emissions would be cut over a 10-year period.
“Continued funding for this project will allow New York State to become a national leader in achieving a clean, publicly-owned, environmentally sustainable freight rail fleet,” Hevesi’s statement noted.
Last year, the state budget included $3 million to repower a diesel locomotive at the Fresh Pond Railyard in Glendale. That engine is expected to be in service by the end of this year, a Hevesi spokesperson told the Times Newsweekly in a report published on Jan. 23.
An additional infusion of federal dollars to provide hybrid or fuelefficient locomotives may also be on the way. The omnibus spending bill Congress passed last month includes $20 million for Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grants to replace high-polluting locomotives in use across the country.
These grants were previously allocated to the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to upgrade two diesel freight locomotives; reportedly, the EDC is in the final stages of selecting a contractor to make the improvements.
When completed, one upgraded engine will be leased to NYA at the Fresh Pond Railyard, and the other will be provided to CSX for use at the Oak Point Yards in the Bronx.