Reducing Emissions From Railyards

This page last revised March 17, 2015

Update on Proposed Railyard Commitments:

On June 24, 2010, the Board held a public hearing and considered public testimony on the draft 2010 Railyard Commitments to reduce diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions from 2005 levels at four high priority railyards in Southern California by 85 percent by 2020.  The draft Commitments were designed as voluntary agreements between the Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) and two major railroads – BNSF Railway and Union Pacific (UP) Railroad and built upon two prior successful agreements between the same parties.  The staff has concluded that for both earlier agreements the railroads consistently met or exceeded each and every obligation they signed on to. 

ARB staff proposed this voluntary approach based on the belief that the Commitments represented the most certain and most effective way to achieve additional emission reductions at the highest risk railyards.  Representatives of impacted communities, as well as the South Coast Air Quality Management District, opposed the draft Commitments and advocated a regulatory approach.

The Executive Officer (EO) has decided not to approve the Commitments, but rather initiate a public process that can lead to a more holistic path for reducing emissions from rail and other freight operations.  The letters below describe the rationale for the decision, as well as the next steps to protect communities near rail and other freight operations. 

 - Letter to ARB Board Members (PDF - 336k)   - Letter to UP and BNSF Railroads (PDF - 84k)

Supplemental Staff Report (July 5, 2011)

Supplement to the June 2010 Staff Report on Proposed Actions to Further Reduce Diesel Particulate Matter at High Priority California Railyards provides updated material.  This supplement presents ARB staff's revised estimates of diesel PM emissions and health risk at each of the four high-priority railyards. The analysis quantifies the significant reduction in diesel PM emissions and health risk at each railyard between 2005 and 2010.  The supplemental report also includes the latest draft of the Revised 2010 Commitments between the Air Resources Board and Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway to Further Reduce Diesel Particulate Emissions at Four High-Priority Railyards (Revised 2010 Commitments) for each railyard as well as an enviromental assessment of the Revised 2010 Commitments. (PDF - 1.90MB)

ARB Staff Report and Proposed Commitments (June 15, 2010)

In June 2010, Air Resources Board staff released a report entitled Proposed Actions to Further Reduce Diesel Particulate Matter at High Priority California Railyards (June 2010 Report) with a proposal to further reduce emissions of toxic diesel particulate matter (PM) at four railyards in Southern California with high estimated health risks. (PDF - 573k)

ARB Recommendations Document (September 9, 2009)

Based on the Technical Options Document, staff developed recommendations to implement further locomotive and railyard emissions reductions in which staff identified the highest priority options as five locomotive measures.  Staff also developed a separate set of additional recommendations that could support or provide further locomotive and railyard emissions and risk reductions.

  • Recommendations to Implement Further Locomotive and Railyard Emission Reductions (PDF - 419k)

  • Staff Presentation - (PDF - 900k)

Technical Evaluation of Options to Reduce Locomotive and Railyard Emissions

In this revised report in 2009, the Air Resources Board (ARB/Board) staff provided a technical evaluation of 37 options that may accelerate further statewide locomotive and localized locomotive and non-locomotive railyard emission reductions.  The technical evaluation of each option is based on the following criteria:  technical feasibility, potential emission reductions, costs, and Carl Moyer Program cost-effectiveness.  The overall purpose of this document was to provide a sound technical basis for the ongoing dialogue on how best to achieve further emissions reductions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and diesel particulate matter (PM or diesel PM) from locomotives and railyard sources.

This revised report was intended only to provide a technical assessment of various options that were available in 2009 or may be available in the near future to accelerate and provide additional emissions reductions from locomotives and major railyards in California.  It was not intended to serve as an implementation blueprint, as it does not evaluate which agency or agencies may have authority to implement such options.  The document also does not evaluate what role, if any, the availability of public funding might play in assuring earlier or further reductions.

Staff also acknowledges that the data used in this report represents a snapshot in time.  Elements such as locomotive fleet composition data are fluid and are influenced by many factors.  In addition, other data used to evaluate technological feasibility, potential emission reductions, and costs are also fluid and subject to change.  The staff expects to provide updates to this 2009 document as technology developments and demonstration project results warrant.

Revised Technical Options Document (August 31, 2009)

Technical Options to Achieve Additional Emissions and Risk Reductions from California Locomotives and Railyards (Full Report: PDF - 2.9MB)

Executive Summary (PDF - 53k)

            I.  Introduction (PDF - 150k)

            II.  Locomotive Options (PDF - 358k)

            III.  Railyard Options (PDF - 250k)

            IV.  Advanced Systems Options for Locomotives and Railyards (PDF - 570k)

            V.  Railyard Operational and Physical Changes (PDF - 97k)

            Appendices (PDF - 1.5Mb)

Draft Report: For more information... (December, 2008)

If you have questions, please contact Harold Holmes, Manager, Rail Strategies Section, at (916) 324-8029.

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