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Railway Sustainability – A look for Greener Solutions

Environmental issues extend beyond spills and accidents


Rail proximity is an issue in Canada but not quite as bad as Thailand

Long before “green solutions” become mainstream buzz words, the North American railway industry was implementing solutions that are simply good business, while being smart environmentally. Railways have for years been working towards;
    • Cleaner air and lower emissions from diesel electric locomotives
    • Reduction of Greenhouse gasses
    • Reduction of runoff from open top cars
    • Movement of Invasive species
    • Noise & Vibration pollution in urban areas
    • Railway and rail yard site restoration

Perhaps what is even less known to the public is the smaller footprint our railways have in comparison to road or air transportation. Rail transportation produces 3 to 10 times less CO2 and rail energy consumption is also lower.

Greenhouse gas emission are being reduced with innovative technology like LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) powered locomotives. EMD, GE and Cummins and others are all working on this technology and have solutions up and running in Canada and the US. In Alberta CN has experimented with LNG locomotive technology between Fort Mac Murray and Edmonton. While the LNG solution is still in the early stages it does hold promise for reducing emissions.

Many industries have specific and unique issues when dealing with environmental issues. Canada’s sulphur exporters handle dust and acid control with innovative products from companies like IPAC Chemicals which help to reduce runoff and airborne concerns.

DOT 111 Tank cars have received a faster timeline for their phase out from Minister Marc Garneau at Transport Canada. These crude oil cars will be replaced with the TC-117 tank cars which feature many safety upgrades.

      • Thicker steel
      • Head shields
      • Thermal protection
      • Top fitting protection

These changes will help insure less impact on our environment in the event of an accident and help protect property near railways.  And while noise pollution from rail is more of a concern in urban areas in Canada, with the increase in rail to port activity and the build up of residential neighbourhoods close to tracks, the issue is escalating.  In New Westminster, BC, for example noise pollution from rail operations is a daily complaint at city hall and has resulted in legal action. New guidelines and noise management techniques are underway both at the Federal and Industry levels to better address these railway concerns.

What is obvious to all is the increase in awareness on environmental issues and the increase in rail activity as our industry grows. It will be interesting to see these new technologies and regulations take hold and help build a more sustainable supply chain.

If you have any comments or suggestion for CHTRS please send us a line and we will do our best to cover topics of interest that you would like to share. Railway sustainability is just one of many we are following. Please Contact Us with suggestions


By |2017-06-21T11:30:04+00:00September 21st, 2016|Sustainability|