‘Eco-locomotives’ unveiled in Atlanta railyard

Railroad giant Norfolk Southern on Tuesday rolled out what it called the nation’s first of a new class of locomotives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas.

At an event at Norfolk Southern’s Inman Yard in northwest Atlanta, the company showcased shiny green “eco-locomotives” to be used to haul freight cars around the sprawling rail yard.

The 10 locomotives will release 150 fewer tons of pollutants than older engines, said Mark Manion, Norfolk Southern’s chief operating officer.

“The bottom line is cleaner air quality for residents of Atlanta and other industrial cities,” he said.

Norfolk Southern employs more than 4,700 people in Georgia and has about 1,800 rail miles in the state. It transports 1.3 million shipments by rail in Georgia each year, totaling about 55 million tons of freight.

The company said it received $16 million in government grants for the $26 million project through a federal air quality program. Beverly Banister, head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlanta division, said the public-private partnership is “at the cutting edge of locomotive technology that will result in cleaner air.”

Gov. Nathan Deal, on hand for the ceremony, tied the project to the state’s effort to build new inland ports where cargo bound for Savannah’s port can be loaded onto freight trains hundreds of miles from the coast. One inland port is already operating in southwest Georgia, and a second is under construction in Chatsworth, near Tennessee’s border.

“We’re only going to get busier,” Deal said.

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