How Long Will It Take to Replace All Diesel Locomotives


The climate cretins in California plan to do away with diesel locomotives without any plan to replace them with some alternative. Before the Congressional Recess, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) questioned witnesses on the timeline of creating electric train cards during a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing.

The hearing took place in July of this year.

You can watch or read the rushed transcript below.

“What is the current readiness of battery electric locomotives,” Sen. Lummis asked.

Witness, Ian Jeffries said, “We’ve been pleased with the returns on the R&D demonstration programs we’ve deployed and purchased battery electrics, waiting on those to be delivered. Some have gotten into yards; absolutely see promise there. But wide-scale production to replace thousands of locomotives is not a capability.

LUMMIS: So how long would it take if reasonably based on today’s current commercial readiness? how long would it take to replace all diesel locomotives with electric. How many decades?

WITNESS: Yeah, I would venture multiple decades. If you could flip a switch and the capability was there…

LUMMIS: Have you done a cost-benefit analysis …for comparing rail to automobile to airlines in terms of the benefit compared to the cost of doing these kinds of conversions to electric?

WITNESS: Well, I opened the hearing by saying, and I think you hit the nail on the head, that 40% of long-distance freight, less than 2% of transportation emissions, you want to reduce emissions right now and move more goods by freight rail.

LUMMIS: Regarding California’s air resource board’s move towards a regulation that would ban freight rail industry from operating a large portion of their locomotives in California–based on its age unless the locomotive is zero-emissions — how would that regulation impact the functioning of the National Rail network and short line railroads?

WITNESS: Well, National Rail network is the key. It’s an interconnected national network that operates in Interstate commerce, not strictly within the balance of one state, and that’s why our regulations and the rules of which we operate under are done at the federal level. And that states do not have jurisdiction to determine the fate of our industry in Interstate commerce.

And with that, you also need to have the capability of doing that we – so back to your first question of the of a conversion – if you’re going to require a zero-emissions locomotive right now, you’ve got to have the capability to produce that, at scale, and that doesn’t exist. We need to get there. I think we are all collectively working toward this goal. while it may not sound like it today. but again we’re proud of our environmental profile. We’ve got more work to do, and that’s why we’re committed to doing that work and making the related investments.

LUMMIS: Do we have enough solar and wind-related electricity to handle an entire fleet of locomotives that have zero-emission run on electricity?

WITNESS: I certainly can’t begin to answer that question. I know that the additional capacity required would be fairly dramatic, so…

LUMMIS: We’ve learned recently that the greenhouse gases that are emitted just in order to manufacture solar energy is three times more than the United Nations originally thought. Do you think that that should be factored in to the total emissions of greenhouse gases and the sources of them?

WITNESS: Well, Senator, I can only focus on my industry and our efforts to reduce emissions, and I think you’re hitting at a broader question that is for folks to debate for her bigger experts than I by every stretch of the imagination. But certainly, we need to be aware of the broader impacts of policy decisions and not have on blinders.

LUMMIS: Mr. Rosen, in your written testimony, you noted that over 75% of Class I railroad fleet was a Tier 2 locomotive or an earlier model. With those locomotives being ineligible to operate in California soon, won’t that result in a shift away from rail and to other modes? How would we get from the Long Beach port to unload goods, and how would we get that to the border of California and Nevada without rail?

WITNESS: Well, we won’t. What you’ll see is that the locomotive manufacturers in this country will actually start generating locomotives again. Right now, they aren’t being ordered. The facility my union represents in Erie, PA, has a capacity without any expansion; they’ve done this in past years with a 1000 locomotives a year. We’re probably a little over half of the total capacity in the country right now.

It’s a little hard to tell because everybody else is just flat on their back because the railroads have not been ordering new locomotives. They have not been ordering Tier 4 locomotives, which is why the numbers are so low, and it’s an outrage, and that could have been done.

They could have been doing it all these past years, as we’ve been discussing here, and if you know when there’s demand, you get supply, and the same will be true in terms of being able to move over to the, you know, to the extent that there’s a hold up on battery locomotives because the batteries, I think you know, you’re seeing that in a number of industries.

You’re also seeing huge investments going on right now, in part through programs that Congress funded, and you’re gonna see a tremendous expansion of capacity for producing batteries over the next couple of years.

LUMMIS: Well, I don’t. I’ll tell you, being from Wyoming, I don’t mind admitting that I’m getting a little resentful of California not wanting to look at industrial-scale wind farms because it destroys their viewshed, but they’re perfectly willing to destroy the Wyoming viewshed with as many industrial-scale wind farms as we can get transmission lines from Wyoming to California.

And it’s interesting that the people who demand wind and solar energy do not want the industrial-scale energy produced in their state. They want it produced in my state, and I’m getting to the point where I’m a little sick of it, but that’s it.


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