Railroad supports Fairbanks Borough’s Air Quality Effort
Anchorage, Alaska – Furthering the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s efforts to improve air quality, the Alaska Railroad (ARRC) announced today significant progress with its recent Locomotive Idle Reduction Program (IRP). By moving inactive locomotives indoors during the winter, the railroad avoids unnecessary idling, thereby reducing fuel use and emissions.
The IRP was established in line with the railroad’s “Blue and Gold make Green” approach to environmental stewardship, as well as to complement the Fairbanks North Star Borough efforts to improve air quality within the borough. The IRP changes the standard practice of allowing diesel locomotives to idle in the railroad yard to keep the engines from freezing. ARRC employees now move the locomotives into the warmer shop area, where engines can be turned off.
IRP was proposed by ARRC employees in part as a cost-savings measure; fuel is a significant expense for the railroad. The initiative required a concentrated and coordinated effort to make room in shop space that is limited, particularly in winter. “This is a perfect example of an employee-driven idea producing great results not only for the company but for our railbelt neighbors as well,” said Chris Aadnesen, ARRC President and Chief Executive Officer.
In the first three weeks of IRP implementation, ARRC reduced fuel usage by more than 24,000 gallons, equating to fuel cost savings of nearly $80,000. “As we gather more information and history, we expect to further validate our numbers,” said David Greenhalgh, ARRC Director of Crew Management and Transportation Services. “The next phase will track the positive environmental impact from fewer emissions. Employee support for the program has been overwhelming and compliance is equally impressive.”
The Fairbanks North Star Borough supports ARRC efforts wholeheartedly, according to Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins. “As the borough continues to educate the public about the importance of clean burning during our winter months, I applaud the efforts of the Alaska Railroad for doing its part to reduce pollution in the borough,” said Hopkins.
The mayor explained that Fairbanks is susceptible to temperature inversions which can trap pollution next to the ground, leading to more episodes of poor air quality. “The health hazards of the particulate pollution are very real,” said Hopkins, “I appreciate ARRC taking steps to clean our air.”
ARRC will continue to look for ways to develop efficiencies and work together with our neighbors to improve Alaska’s environment.