Florida's Tri-Rail Trains to Run on Biodiesel Fuel

POMPANO BEACH, Florida, October 29, 2008 (ENS) - From now on, Tri-Rail commuter trains will operate on biodiesel fuel, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority announced today. The goal is to operate the trains on a 99 percent biodiesel blend, when available.

Tri-Rail is one of the few commuter rail systems in the country that can operate on such a pure blend of fuel, due to South Florida's temperate climate, said the SFRTA, adding that the transition to biodiesel fuel is expected to have a positive impact on the region's environment.

The SFRTA currently operates 50 Tri-Rail trains daily, Monday through Friday and 16 trains on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Tri-Rail serves 18 stations from Miami to Mangonia Park, including all three of the region's international airports.

The growing ridership on Tri-Rail trains surpassed the 50 million mark just this morning.

"The Federal Transit Administration is committed to encouraging the use of alternative fuels in the nation's rail and bus systems," said FTA Administrator James Simpson, whose agency funded the locomotives that will be part of Tri-Rail's biodiesel fleet.

"By taking this important step, Tri-Rail is leading the way toward energy independence," he said.

"The switch to biodiesel fuel has been long in coming," said Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Jr., chair of the SFRTA Governing Board. "It follows in the path of Governor [Charlie] Crist's mission to ‘green' the state of Florida and we are pleased that the economies and efficiencies have come together to allow us to make this change for the betterment of the environment."

Governor Crist said today, "As Florida encourages companies to invest in renewable and alternative energy technologies, I applaud Tri-Rail for the decision to use biofuels in its fleet."

"As the clean energy technology sector continues to grow, we are encouraging the development of biofuels using Florida-based feedstocks, which will create jobs here in the Sunshine State and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the governor said.

The biodiesel fuel will consist of either palm or soy oil, depending upon availability.

According to tests done at the Southwest Research Center in San Antonio, Texas and funded by the FTA, Tri-Rail locomotives use approximately seven percent more fuel when operating on biodiesel; however, it currently costs approximately 30 cents per gallon less than diesel fuel and the environmental benefits outweigh the additional cost.

Furthermore, possibilities of environmental impact to the soil in the event of a fuel spill is significantly reduced in instances where biodiesel fuel is used, because biodiesel fuel does not present the same pollution hazards as a typical diesel-fuel spill.

Additional benefits to using biodiesel fuel are low emissions, power and efficiency comparable to petroleum diesel, capability of being mixed with diesel fuel without modification, and safer storage and transport.

Biodiesel fuel is non-toxic, biodegradable and has a flashpoint of 300 degrees Fahrenheit compared to diesel fuel's flashpoint of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel fuel produces approximately 43 percent less carbon monoxide, 56 percent less hydrocarbons, 55 percent less particulates, 60 to 90 percent less air toxins and 78 percent less carbon dioxide than diesel fuel. Biodiesel fuel produces no sulfur emissions, and produces five percent more nitrous oxide than diesel fuel.

Biodiesel will be used in all of Tri-Rail's conventional train sets. The Diesel Multiple Units will continue to operate on standard diesel fuel, due to warranty restrictions.

Separate fueling stations located at the Hialeah Yard make it possible for the SFRTA to operate trains on both types of fuel.

A study by the American Public Transportation Association shows that the single most effective choice a person can make to help the environment is to choose public transportation.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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