Metrolink officials Tuesday celebrated Earth Day with the unveiling of a new eco-friendly locomotive, the first of 15 trains that will begin circulating in Glendale and elsewhere on Southern California rail lines during the next 15 months.
“They’ll be coming in one per month,” Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said. “It’s only a matter of time before you see these trains coming in Glendale.”
Called the MotivePower MPXpress, the commuter locomotive emits far fewer emissions than a typical locomotive — 42% less nitrogen oxide gas, 70% less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and 60% fewer hydrocarbons, she said.
“What the public will see is a nicer paint job on the outside,” she said. “But what they won’t be able to see is the lesser emissions.”
The new locomotive also has a stop-start engine, similar to a hybrid vehicle, which reduces the amount of time the train spends idling, she said.
“The train will idle, but it significantly shortens the idling time,” she said. “This is extremely important to people who live near train yards and train stations, who complain that trains idle for hours and hours because they’re so difficult to start and restart.
The new locomotives will also broaden Metrolink’s passenger capacity, having the power to pull 10 rail cars at a time, which is four more than the current capability, Tyrrell said.
“If those trains are full, that could be 1,200 people,” she said. “That may not sound like a lot. . . but 1,200 cars is a lot of cars off of the road. And our ridership base is made up of people who used to drive alone. . . . So this is a significant amount of cars.”
Encouraging ridership and accommodating more passengers is consistent with Metrolink officials’ work in helping to keep Southern California’s environment “clean and green,” said Metrolink Vice Chairman Keith Millhouse.
“You can drive a hybrid, recycle and plant trees, but remember that driving alone to work takes a toll on the environment,” he said. “Riding Metrolink even one day a week makes a difference in how green you really are.”
Incorporating the 15 new locomotives into the fleet will cost Metrolink $1.9 million per train, Tyrrell said. For every new train that goes into circulation, officials will temporarily remove an older train from service, in order to be refurbished and given a cleaner and more energy-efficient engine, she said.
The train added Tuesday brings the total number of locomotives in the fleet to 40, with 14 more on the way, she said.
“We are looking toward the future, and we hope that the future will include more passengers,” Tyrell said. “I definitely think Southern Californians are looking for some alternatives out there, and Southern California deserves good rail service. We have a beautiful state; it deserves to be preserved, and one of the ways we can do that is to drive less.”