CARB Fact Sheet: Passenger Locomotive Operators
- Passenger locomotives propel passenger cars and use head-end power for functions such as heating, lighting, and air conditioning. Head-end power may be supplied by the primary engine or a separate diesel generator.
- Travel routes for these locomotives range from short, local commuter distances to long, cross-country trips.
- Passenger locomotive operators in California include: Metrolink, Caltrain, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, Capital and San Joaquin Valley Corridors, Altamont Commuter Express, and the North Coast Transit District.
2022 Passenger Locomotive Population Breakdown by Tier
1Some passenger locomotive operators use ZE multiple units which do not use an onboard power source, because of this, multiple units do not meet the definition of “locomotive” in the Proposed Regulation, therefore they are excluded from the inventory of applicable locomotives under the Proposed Regulation.
Passenger Locomotives and the Proposed Regulation
1. Starting in 2024: Spending Account
- Locomotive operators would be required to fund their own trust account based on the emissions created by their locomotive operations in California. The dirtier the locomotive, the more funds must be set aside.
- Spending Account funds would be used to purchase the cleanest locomotives or upgrade existing locomotives to the cleanest tier.
2. Starting in 2030: In-Use Operational Requirements
- Only locomotives less than 23 years old would be able to be used in California.
- Beginning in 2030, all passenger locomotives with an original engine build date of 2030 or newer would be required to operate in a ZE configuration—i.e., qualify as either a ZE locomotive or ZE capable locomotive to operate in California.
3. Starting in 2024: Idling Limit
- All locomotives with automatic shutoff devices would not be permitted to idle longer than 30 minutes, unless for an exempt reason. Exemptions would align with those described by U.S. EPA., and would be granted for reasons like maintaining air brake pressure or keeping the driver cabin heated or air conditioned.
4. Starting in 2024: Registration and Reporting
- Locomotives operating in the state would be required to register with CARB.
- Locomotive activity, emission levels and idling data would be required to be reported annually.
Flexibility in the Proposed In-Use Locomotive Regulation for Passenger Locomotive Operators
- Passenger locomotive operators have worked with CARB staff to provide input to the Proposed Regulation.
- Visit the webpage Reducing Rail Emissions in California | California Air Resources Board to learn how the Proposed Regulation would apply to all locomotive operators, including passenger locomotive operators.
- From collaborative discussions with passenger locomotive operators, CARB staff has developed an Alternative Compliance Plan.
Alternative Compliance Plans
- An Alternative Compliance Plan would be expected to achieve equivalent emission reductions within the constraints that often govern passenger locomotive operations.
- Passenger locomotive operator funding may constrain their ability to comply with the Proposed Regulation and to recognize this challenge, CARB would allow flexibility in the way locomotive operators may comply.
- Alternative Compliance Plans would be able to be used in lieu of regular compliance pathways for the either Spending Account, the In-Use Operational Requirements, or for both.
Passenger Locomotive Emissions Under the Proposed Regulation
Diesel-powered passenger locomotives create emission of particulate matter (PM2.5) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) which have been shown to be harmful to human health, causing illness and premature death.
Under the Proposed Regulation passenger locomotive PM emissions are projected to drop by approximately 48 percent and NOx emissions are projected to drop by approximately 40 percent compared with the baseline scenario.
The graphic below shows the impact of passenger locomotive operator compliance with the Proposed Regulation in terms of cars permanently removed from California roads.
PM2.5 Reduction from Passenger Locomotive Operator Compliance with the Proposed Regulation
Passenger Operations and Locomotive Technology
- Compared to other California locomotive operators, passenger locomotive operators have embraced cleaner locomotive technology at the highest rate.
- Passenger locomotive duties, which are confined to set routes with regular station stops, are suited to existing ZE operations. Passenger locomotive operators could also provide critical support for emerging ZE technologies through pilots and demonstrations.
- By using individually powered passenger cars called multiple units, some passenger locomotive operators are already using ZE technology.
- Passenger locomotives can plug into the power grid using wayside power if the locomotive and the station are equipped, removing the need to use diesel “head-end power” engines; this would allow a passenger train to run things like air conditioning and lighting with zero emissions.
CARB offers grant funding to operators seeking assistance to upgrade or replace their locomotives to Tier 4 or zero-emission. Visit the CARB Incentives for Locomotives webpage for more information: CARB Incentives for Locomotives | California Air Resources Board