The railroad has always been a part of Americana and since its inception we’ve been fascinated with the concept of direct travel across the nation by a method other than cars. Trains once represented the engineering capabilities and mobilization of our nation and while they still display our ability to get around, train engineering has seen less progress as time has passed.
In celebrating its 40th birthday this year, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation – better known as Amtrak — has taken the steps to bring engineering back to the forefront of its operations with a pledge to go green. In early May, Amtrak completed a year long trial run using biodiesel fuel on passenger cars between Oklahoma City and the Fort Worth-Dallas area showing its continued commitment to reducing emissions.
Since 2003 Amtrak has increased service on many of its routes while reducing diesel fuel consumption by 5%. It looks to cut consumption by 7% by the end of 2011. While those numbers may not seem like much, considering Amtrak operates service from Maine to New Orleans and Chicago to Los Angeles, reductions like these make big differences.
With a considerable amount of passengers taking the train daily for both regional and long distance travel, the reduction of emissions is not the only concern Amtrak has. Recycling plays a huge role in its operations and according to CEO Joseph Boardman, Amtrak’s recycling efforts have “netted more than 875 tons of paper; 209,000 gallons of used oil; 6,800 tons of steel parts and scrap steel; 27.3 tons of mattress foam and 73 tons of cable.”
With recognition from TIME magazine as one of the top 50 inventions of 2010 along with 20 and 30% better efficiency over airline and automobile travel respectively, trains are slowly moving back towards an age of innovation. The combination of offering travelers a choice in travel methods to many of the domestic locations that planes do, and doing so more efficiently can boost the travel industry as well as help protect the environment.
Sounds like a win-win scenario to us!