Longietti: Nearly $3 million awarded to fund electric freight locomotive

Grant to Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad will cut harmful diesel emissions

HERMITAGE, Nov. 1 – Grant funding of $2.9 million will allow Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Co. to reduce its fleet’s diesel emissions by replacing an aging, diesel-powered locomotive with an electric model, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced today.

Longietti, D-Mercer, said the funding awarded under the Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program will allow the railroad to replace a nearly-50-year-old freight switcher locomotive with a new electric model powered by a lithium-ion battery – a move that will reduce the diesel-based nitrogen oxide emissions that harm human health.

“Securing this funding to allow B&LER to replace some of its aging, diesel-powered equipment with low-emission electric equipment means the company can keep freight moving efficiently while at the same time reducing an important health risk,” Longietti said. “Exposure to diesel emissions is linked to a higher risk of lung cancer and other diseases, so any steps we can take to reduce that exposure directly benefits workers as well as residents in the vicinity.”

In addition to the locomotive being replaced, B&LER operates a fleet of six long-haul locomotives and three additional freight-switcher locomotives.

The grant is part of a package of $9.5 million in “Driving PA Forward” funding, which supplies the Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program and the Fast Charging and Hydrogen Fueling Grant Program.

Funding for Driving PA Forward – which aims to reduce lifetime NOx emissions from mobile sources by as much as 27,700 tons – comes from the Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund as a result of a settlement with Volkswagen.

More about the funding is available here.

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