Amtrak Goes Green with Fuel Alternative


The Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, which manages the Amtrak® Pacific Surfliner® service announced that the passenger rail fleet is now powered by a more sustainable fuel alternative.

The Pacific Surfliner trains will now operate on renewable diesel (RD) which is chemically similar to fossil diesel but made from renewable raw materials such as used cooking oil, instead of crude oil. Compared to fossil diesel, RD significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 63%1 throughout its lifecycle, providing a steep increase to the sustainability of rail travel in Southern California. Furthermore, the switch to RD offers the potential to reduce other harmful emissions, including fine particulates and nitrogen oxides leading to improved local air quality.

“The adoption of renewable diesel for our Pacific Surfliner service is an important milestone in our ongoing commitment to environmental preservation and the fight against climate change,” said Jewel Edson, Chair of the LOSSAN Agency Board of Directors. “We take immense pride in joining forces with Amtrak, state and federal agencies, rail equipment manufacturers, and fuel distributors who share our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability.”

The adoption of renewable diesel for the Pacific Surfliner fleet is the result of a collaborative effort that engaged key stakeholders, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Amtrak, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, and various other partners.

It is worth noting that the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is already an efficient mode of travel as train travel is 46%2 more energy efficient than traveling by car. Additionally, the Pacific Surfliner currently operates with diesel-electric Charger locomotives, the first passenger locomotive to receive the stringent Tier IV emissions certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making it one of the cleanest diesel-electric passenger locomotives in operation. The transition to renewable diesel serves as yet another significant stride in reducing the Pacific Surfliner and our passengers’ carbon footprint.

1 Calculated using the Department of Energy GREET model
2 Department of Energy Transportation Energy Data Book

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