October 29, 2008

South Florida trains to begin using biodiesel

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) announced that effective immediately, Tri-Rail trains will operate on biodiesel fuel. The goal is to operate trains on a 99 percent 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. The transition to biodiesel fuel will have a significantly positive impact on the region’s environment and is supported and encouraged by many public transportation oversight and regulatory agencies.

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 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.

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

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