BNSF to use natural gas hostlers at nationÆs busiest intermodal yard
BNSF Railway Co. said it is launching a project to test natural gas hostler trucks at its Los Angeles Hobart Intermodal Facility, the nation’s busiest rail intermodal terminal.
The project is part of a pilot program to test the vehicles for future use at select intermodal facilities, including the proposed near-dock Southern California International Gateway facility north of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
According to the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad, the natural gas hostlers emit 90 percent less nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions than standard off-road diesel tractors.
Natural gas vehicles typically use either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, such as the hostlers, have weight and range requirements and typically use LNG because it allows them to store more fuel on board with less tank weight.
Several previous pilot programs at the two ports have proven the efficacy of using natural gas to power hostlers, which are off-road vehicles used to shuttle cargo containers within marine terminals, rail yards and intermodal facilities.
Parsec Inc., BNSF’s intermodal contract operator that oversees the day-to-day operations of Hobart, selected Clean Energy Inc. of Nevada to provide the LNG for the hostlers.
Parsec said the pilot program is the first step in the complete phase-out of diesel-powered hostlers at Hobart. Parsec acquired the 10 natural gas hostlers for the Hobart Yard project through a grant from the California Air Resources Board.
The California Air Resources Board-sponsored Carl Moyer Program provides grants to companies dedicated to using clean energy vehicles. On average, a natural gas-powered hostler costs about $49,000 more than one that runs on diesel fuel.