COLUMN-Evolution or revolution? LNG and the railroads: Kemp

Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:44am EDT
 
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(John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

By John Kemp

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - Electro-Motive Diesel, the world's largest diesel locomotive manufacturer, has taken delivery of the first of four specially designed liquefied natural gas (LNG) tenders ultimately destined for use on the Canadian National railroad.

The remaining tenders, each equipped with a fuel tank capable of carrying 45,500 litres of LNG, are due to be delivered before the end of June, according to specialist industry publication "Railway Age".

The specially adapted engines and tenders will be put through stationary tests before being handed over to Canadian National for a pilot programme on the tracks starting in the summer ("Westport delivers first LNG tender to EMD", April 11).

It is the first small step in what could be a revolution. Just as diesel locomotives ousted steam trains in the middle of the 20th century, LNG could replace diesel in the 21st.

But despite the apparent cost savings from switching to gas from diesel, there are also "key uncertainties as to whether, and to what extent, the railroads can take advantage of this relatively cheap and abundant fuel", according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

BIG FUEL SAVINGS   Continued...