Locomotive idle reduction technology has the potential to significantly reduce fuel consumption and related emissions, but its use is limited in short line railroads. These operations typically minimize capital investments and accept higher maintenance and operational costs that correspond with their specific work load at that time. Therefore, most use older locomotives that are less efficient and more polluting. This business model does not enable them to invest in new technology, especially if there is some risk because it has not been widely used for their particular application. New York State has an extensive network of 29 short line railroad operations that collectively own and operate approximately 42% of the overall railroad infrastructure. To justify the purchase of idle reduction technology, the short line operators need documented benefits with proof of short payback, reliability, and ease of operation. Therefore, New West Technologies and Power Drives Incorporated with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and support from the New York State Department of Transportation are demonstrating the Powerhouse™ Diesel Warming Systems (DWS) on seven short line railroads operating in New York State.
The two Powerhouse™ DWS models demonstrated in this project are the 120V electric plug-in version (DWS-120) and the auxiliary power unit (DWS-APU). Allowing the locomotive to be shutdown in cold weather, both models heat the engine coolant with a diesel fired burner. The DWS-120 circulates the heated fluid with an electric water pump powered from a standard external 120VAC source. The APU model runs the pump with a small EPA-certified onboard diesel genset which provides added flexibility to where and when it can be used. Eleven locomotives were outfitted with this technology to evaluate the real-world operational experience, along with the benefits and cost savings that can be achieved from their use. This paper documents the energy, emission, and economic benefits realized by the multiple short line railroad partners that installed and utilized the Powerhouse™ DWS over the 2011–2012 cold season. The system provides an average fuel savings of 3.5 to 6.0 gallons per hour and emission reductions of up to 99% for NOX, 97% for PM, and 91% for CO2. In addition, feedback on the system’s performance and the technology’s noise reduction potential are presented. Overall, the anticipated outcome of this project is to validate the reduced fuel use, lower emissions, and lower costs, which will assist the business economics of an inherently efficient mode of transportation.