Moving freight by rail is 4 times more fuel efficient than moving freight on the highway. Trains can move a ton of freight over 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Efficient use of fuel means fewer greenhouse gas emissions for our planet.
CSX has invested more than $2.1 billion over the last decade to improve its locomotive fuel efficiency and reduce the corresponding emissions. We are focused on 4 key areas to drive continued improvement:
CSX locomotive engineers are coached on locomotive simulators, developing best practices and improving their awareness of fuel-efficient train handling. The company also uses locomotive Event Recorder Automated Download (ERAD). Similar to a “black box” on an airplane, ERAD monitors and records actual train operations and is used to provide feedback to the engineers on how to improve fuel efficiency. In addition, CSX invests heavily in training its employees on proper locomotive shut-down rules to eliminate unnecessary idling.
Locomotive Idling Reduction Technology
To reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions during idling, CSX has invested in 2 separate pieces of idle-reducing technology: Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) and Automated Engine Start Stop (AESS). As the name suggests, APUs provide auxiliary power to a locomotive allowing the larger diesel engine to be shut down. AESS acts similarly by automatically shutting the locomotive down when not in use and automatically starting it when needed. In addition to these systems, CSX invests heavily in training our employees on proper locomotive shut-down rules to eliminate unnecessary idling.
Locomotive Fleet Enhancements
In 2015, CSX began taking the first delivery of Tier 4 locomotives, following the regulatory requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These are the most efficient locomotives currently in production; reducing nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions by at least 70 percent from Tier 3 standards. These locomotives are expected to improve performance and further increase fuel efficiency.
Piloting New Technology
CSX is committed to implementing new technology that optimizes train operations for fuel efficiency. CSX uses an innovative control system called Trip Optimizer to reduce fuel use by approximately 10% while enhancing safety, simplifying train handling and improving efficiency. The Trip Optimizer is a real-time, energy management technology that uses GPS, track grade and curvature data, and train information to identify the most fuel-efficient throttle settings for each trip as the train moves across the railroad. In addition, methods of rail lubrication are being explored to reduce rail-to-wheel friction and increase fuel efficiency.
Calculating Fuel Efficiency
The ton-mile-per-gallon is a unit of measurement used to describe the efficiency of hauling freight by various modes of transportation.
The rail industry tracks and reports revenue ton-miles in the “Annual Report to the Surface Transportation Board” (commonly referred to as the R1 Report). The “Ton-Miles of Freight” annual value is reported in Schedule 755, line 110 of the R1 Report. The rail industry also tracks and reports annual fuel usage in the R1 Report, Schedule 750, line 4. These two reported values are used to determine a system-wide train efficiency value.
For example, in 2015, the CSX ton-miles of freight reported in the R1 Report = 229,562,353,000 ton-miles and the CSX 2015 reported fuel usage = 487,540,790 gallons.
The 2015 CSX system-wide train efficiency metric equals:
229,562,353,000 ton-miles / 487,540,790 gallons = 471 ton-miles per gallon.
In other words CSX trains, on average, can move a ton of freight nearly 500 miles on a gallon of fuel, based on our 2015 revenue ton miles and 2015 fuel use.
The fuel efficiency for a freight truck can be estimated in a similar way. For example, a heavy-duty diesel truck that hauls 19 tons of freight a distance of 500 miles would consume approximately 71 gallons of diesel fuel. The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as:
(19 tons x 500 miles) / 71 gallons = 134 ton-miles per gallon.
This efficiency might be stated as “a truck can move a ton of freight 134 miles on a gallon of fuel.”
Similarly, a typical train might haul 3000 tons of freight 500 miles and consume approximately 3185 gallons of diesel fuel. The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as:
(3000 tons x 500 miles) / (3185 gallons) = 471 ton-miles per gallon.
This efficiency might be stated as “a train can move a ton of freight 471 miles on a gallon of fuel.”
In this example, the train is approximately 3.5 times more efficient at hauling freight.
Additional information about fuel efficiency for various modes can be found on Mother Nature Network.