SAN DIEGO — Amtrak will now be operating its Pacific Surfliner rail service from San Diego to Los Angeles using a more sustainable fuel alternative created with a common household item: cooking oil.
Also known as renewable diesel, the fuel is chemically similar to fossil diesel, but it swaps out the crude oil for raw materials like cooking oil. The new diesel will be used for all trains that travel along the Los Angeles — San Diego — San Luis Obispo corridor, also known as LOSSAN.
“The adoption of renewable diesel for our Pacific Surfliner service is an important milestone in our ongoing commitment to environmental preservation and the fight against climate change,” Jewel Edson, chair of the LOSSAN Agency Board of Directors, said in a release announcing the change on Wednesday.
According to LOSSAN, the new type of fuel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 63% throughout its lifecycle. The switch also offers the potential to reduce other harmful emissions that worsen local air quality, the transit company says, including fine particulates and nitrogen oxides.
The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner fleet also currently operates with one of the cleanest types of diesel-electric locomotives across the country, according to LOSSAN. Called the Charger locomotive, the passenger train was the first to receive the stringent Tier IV emissions certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The transition to renewable diesel serves as yet another significant stride in reducing the Pacific Surfliner and our passengers’ carbon footprint,” the managing agency wrote in its release.
In adopting the new diesel, the LOSSAN managing agency said they worked with Amtrak, as well as the California Department of Transportation, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority among others.
“We take immense pride in joining forces with Amtrak, state and federal agencies, rail equipment manufacturers, and fuel distributors who share our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability,” Edson added.
Train travel is already one of the most sustainable modes of transit. According to the Department of Energy, using trains is roughly 46% more energy efficient than traveling by car.