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Union Pacific Railroad Using Ultra-Low-Emission Rail Yard Locomotives in Chicago Area

Seven Environmentally Friendly Locomotives are working at Union Pacific’s Rail Yard in Northlake, Ill.

The Genset

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    One of the seven Union Pacific Railroad ultra-low-emitting environmentally friendly diesel locomotives working at the railroad’s Proviso rail yard in the Chicago area.

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    One of the seven Union Pacific Railroad ultra-low-emitting environmentally friendly diesel locomotives working at the railroad’s Proviso rail yard in the Chicago area.

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About Union Pacific

Omaha, Neb., December 12, 2012 – Union Pacific Railroad today unveiled one of the seven ultra-low-emitting environmentally friendly diesel locomotives that are being used in a rail yard in the Chicago area. This ultra-low-emitting locomotive was developed by Union Pacific and is part of the railroad's ongoing efforts to continue reducing air emissions in cooperation with federal, state and local environmental agencies.

The new 2,000-horsepower locomotives are called generator-set or "Genset" switchers and are powered by three 667-horsepower ultra-low-emission U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off-road Tier 3-certified diesel engines. The Genset switcher reduces emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 80 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent, while using up to 37 percent less fuel compared to older switching locomotives. The fuel savings also reduces green house gases up to 37 percent.

"We continue to voluntarily research and develop new technologies to reduce locomotive emissions and this latest version of the Union Pacific Genset locomotive is another end product of that hard work," said Bob Turner, Union Pacific senior vice president - Corporate Relations. "Union Pacific is committed to preserving our environment by reducing emissions to help improve air quality and conserve fuel."

The seven new Genset switcher locomotives are being used at Union Pacific's Proviso Rail Yard in Northlake, Ill. The latest Genset switchers are equipped with six traction motors instead of four traction motors found on a traditional rail yard locomotive. The two additional traction motors gives the new version of the Genset switcher increased "pushing" power over the four traction motor Genset, something that will be useful while the new locomotives are working to push rail cars over the "hump" where gravity then takes the cars into destination-specific tracks at the Proviso Rail Yard.

Union Pacific began studies and tests of the prototype Genset switcher locomotive in 2002 and now has a total of 172 of the ultra-low emission locomotives working in California, Texas and now in the Chicago area. Several other United States railroads continue to follow Union Pacific's lead and are using similar Genset switching locomotives. Several Genset locomotives are also in use in Canada and South America. A railroad in Germany has ordered them as well.

Genset Switcher Locomotive

In the early 1930s, electricity began replacing steam as the "power" used to move locomotives. Diesel became the fuel of choice to power the on-board engine that turned electric power generators producing electricity to drive motors attached to axles and wheels.

Since locomotives do not require maximum horsepower use all the time (1,200- to 2,100-horsepower for switch or yard locomotives and 4,000-to-6,000-horsepower for long-haul road locomotives), Union Pacific's Mike Iden, general director of car and locomotive engineering based in the Chicago area, looked into the development of a switching locomotive that would use multiple smaller diesel engines, running in combinations of 1, 2 or 3 engines, to produce the required horsepower levels when needed. Modern off-road diesel engines are capable of providing the lower power required by typical switching locomotives while reducing fuel consumption and, most importantly, exhaust emissions.

Iden's idea was to package the diesel engine, electrical generator and the cooling system radiator in one compact, easily replaced module called a Generator Set or "Genset."

Union Pacific's "Environmentally Friendly" Fleet

Trains are one of the nation's most environmentally friendly modes of moving freight, generating a carbon footprint that is 75 percent less than trucks.

Union Pacific operates North America's cleanest and most modern locomotive fleet and is aggressively working to become even cleaner and greener.

  • Since 2000, Union Pacific has spent approximately $6 billion to purchase more than 3,500 locomotives that meet EPA Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 emissions standards.
  • Also since 2000, UP retired more than 2,650 older locomotives and overhauled or rebuilt nearly 4,150 locomotive diesel engines with emissions control upgrades.
  • More than 80 percent of our approximately 8,200 locomotives are certified under existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 emissions standards.

UP Pioneering Cleaner Locomotive Technology

Union Pacific is committed to reducing emissions and improving air quality in our operations. We're constantly developing and evaluating innovative technologies. In addition to the development and implementation of Genset locomotive technology:

  • UP evaluated experimental technology, such as the Oxicat-equipped, long-haul locomotive and the DPF equipped, low-horsepower yard locomotive. Initial testsshowed the Oxicat reduced particulate emissions by 50 percent, hydrocarbons by 38 percent and carbon monoxide by 82 percent. The DPF reduced particulate matter by more than 70 percent in tests.
  • UP developed a comprehensive plan to reduce unnecessary locomotive idling time. All new locomotives have automatic Stop-Start equipment and older locomotives are being retrofitted with it. Locomotive shutdowns can save 15-24 gallons of fuel, per locomotive, per day. More than 70 percent of our locomotive fleet is equipped with this technology.
  • UP assisted in the development and testing of the first five Caterpillar-Progress Rail PR30C locomotives ever built that employ urea SCR to achieve Tier 4 emissions standards.
  • UP partnered with EMD to develop, test and deploy 25 SD59MX locomotives that are relatively low emitting despite the fact they do not use urea SCR. One of these experimental locomotives is fitted with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filters (DPF's), and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC's) to achieve emissions levels well below the Tier 3 standard.
  • UP is continuing to test a ULEL genset locomotive that has been fitted with a Johnson Mathey DPF to further reduce particulate matter emissions beyond its normal low level.

About Union Pacific

It was 150 years ago that Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862, creating the original Union Pacific. One of America's iconic companies, today, Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP), linking 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail and providing freight solutions and logistics expertise to the global supply chain. From 2000 through 2011, Union Pacific spent more than $31 billion on its network and operations, making needed investments in America's infrastructure and enhancing its ability to provide safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible freight transportation. Union Pacific's diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers and emphasizes excellent customer service. Union Pacific operates competitive routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways.

Media contact: Mark Davis, 402-544-5459 or

The statements and information contained in the news releases provided by Union Pacific speak only as of the date issued. Such information by its nature may become outdated, and investors should not assume that the statements and information contained in Union Pacific's news releases remain current after the date issued. Union Pacific makes no commitment, and disclaims any duty, to update any of this information.