• 7
The Amtrak Heartland Flyer makes daily runs between Oklahoma City, OK and Fort Worth, TX. It's powered by a 3,200 horsepower General Electric P32-8 locomotive with a 12-cylinder diesel engine that handles the task of pulling tremendous loads down the tracks. Back in April, the Heartland Flyer received a decal indicating that it was to be fueled with nothing but B20 (20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent conventional diesel). From that day forth, the GE locomotive, burning only B20, continued its daily runs without fault.

The project's success has not gone unnoticed and, earlier this week, Time magazine recognized the B20-fueled Amtrak Heartland Flyer by placing the train on "The 50 Best Inventions of 2010" list. Time calls the Heartland Flyer "Amtrak's beef-powered train" and lists it alongside other innovations like the Apple iPad and 3-D glasses. The Heartland Flyer is the only one of Time's ten transportation innovations on the "50 Best" list that is currently accessible to the public.

While Amrtrak is no doubt honored to have made Time's list, its main reason for conducting real-world testing with its B20-fueled Flyer is not to win awards, but to discover cleaner ways to move down the tracks. Looks like it's found something worth testing further.

[Source: Amtrak]



TIME's 50 Best Inventions gives Amtrak top honor in transportation;

Oklahoma-Texas train also showing big ridership gains

CHICAGO – Amtrak and the Oklahoma and Texas state transportation departments are honored to announce the test of a cleaner and renewable biodiesel fuel blend to power the daily Amtrak Heartland Flyer train has made TIME magazine's list of "The 50 Best Inventions of 2010."

With a whimsical cartoon pointing out the biodiesel blend includes beef byproduct, what TIME calls "Amtrak's Beef Powered Train" joins the ranks of Apple Inc.'s iPad and better 3-D glasses on the "50 Best" list. Operating daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, the Heartland Flyer is the only one of TIME's ten transportation innovations to be publically available.

"This recognition from TIME magazine is an honor to our state partners and all of us at Amtrak who are working on this project, the nation's first test of biodiesel in an interstate passenger train," said Roy Deitchman, Amtrak Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety. "Amtrak travel is already more energy efficient than most other forms of intercity transportation. If the test shows this use of a renewable fuel in our locomotive is successful, it's a home run for our passengers, for our partners and for the planet."

Amtrak received a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to carry out the research project in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (Okla. DOT) on the train operated by Amtrak with state support from both Oklahoma and Texas. The biodiesel blend is provided by a Texas-based vendor.

In previously conducted stationary locomotive engine testing, the biodiesel blend known as B20 (20% pure biofuel and 80% diesel) reduced hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide each by 10 percent, reduced particulates by 15 percent and sulfates by 20 percent. Detailed measurements will be taken on the locomotive at the end of 12 months so any impact of the biodiesel on valves and gaskets can be measured. Amtrak will collect locomotive exhaust emissions data for analysis in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency locomotive exhaust emissions federal test protocols.
"Quality of life issues are increasingly important. The Heartland Flyer has always provided high-quality service and being the first to test this program is another testimony in doing that by trying to improve the environment," said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation

Gary Ridley. "We are truly proud that Oklahoma is a part of this innovative way to improve our quality of life."
"Improving air quality and providing multimodal transportation alternatives are goals central to Texas transportation development efforts," said Bill Glavin, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Rail Division Director. "Our partnership with Amtrak and Oklahoma on the Heartland Flyer helps us accomplish both goals - motorists have an additional option fortravel between North Texas and Oklahoma City, which not only takes vehicles off the highway, but reduces harmful emissions compared to traditional diesel-fueled locomotives."

Since April 2010, General Electric P32-8 locomotive 500 has carried an Amtrak decal indicating the use of B20 fuel and other special markings to make certain only the biodiesel fuel is used in 3,200-horsepower, 12-cylinder engine, through the conclusion of the test in April 2011. The trial has received support on fuel and engine component evaluation from Chevron Oronite. The engine manufacturer has provided input on warranty matters.

About the Heartland Flyer
The Amtrak Heartland Flyer was inaugurated June 14, 1999, with federal funds received by Okla. DOT that were designed to initiate service in areas without Amtrak trains. TxDOT joined
the partnership with Oklahoma and Amtrak in 2006 with the support of the Heartland Flyer

Coalition, representing the communities along the 206-mile route. Ridership in the 12 months ending September 30 was 81,749, up 11 percent from the previous year. Growth is continuing with October 2010 ridership up by more than 17 percent compared to October 2009.

Amtrak operates the Heartland Flyer under state-funded contracts with Okla. DOT and TxDOT to provide daily service, with regularly scheduled stops in Oklahoma City, Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Ardmore, Oklahoma and in Gainesville and Fort Worth, Texas. For additional information, visit www.heartlandflyer.com.

About the Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is to provide a safe‚ economical‚ and effective transportation network for the people‚ commerce and communities of Oklahoma. For more information, visit www.okladot.state.ok.us
About the Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its approximately 12,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and increasing the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at www.txdot.gov.

About Amtrak

As the nation's intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. Last fiscal year (FY 2010), the railroad carried more than 28.7 million passengers, making it the best year in the company's history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day-at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph)-to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the partner of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for several commuter rail agencies. Visit Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Months Ago
      Take the train and avoid airport screening.

      I think Japan has a train that runs off the grid and has an engine to run off grid. I think something like that could work in America.
        • 3 Months Ago
        I think I mixed up on and off grid.
      • 3 Months Ago
      Not a single mention of the most interesting thing about this train: It's a diesel-electric series hybrid.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Sure trains are diesel-electric. Do people know this? When I suggest to people that a series hybrid car would be a good idea and point to the massive diesel-electric trains they usually give me a blank look. Electric engines are puny, they cant power a big train! Everybody knows this! Argh...
        • 3 Months Ago
        This is not new, all modern trains work this way. Series diesel electric trains have been around for about a hundred years, they can capture regenerative energy and delinking the ice engine with its narrow power-band from the wheels allows powerful electric motors to be attached via a simple gear reduction rather than multiple gear transmission.
        • 3 Months Ago
        They are diesel-electric, but NOT hybrid! "Hybrid" implies two sources of power, such as gasoline and battery. These Amtrak diesel-electric locomotives don't have batteries, they just use the generator+motor as a transmission mechanism for the engine.

        Hybrid locomotives do exist, but they are not widespread yet. Example:
      • 3 Months Ago
      That isn't that interesting, since most trains outside of cities in the US are diesel-electric hybrids; it is easier to have the diesels turn generators to power the electric motors than to build a mechanical transmission that can handle that kind of torque at 0 rpm. And running a diesel engine on a biofuel specifically formulated for diesel engines isn't all that amazing either. Heck, you could probably put straight vegetable oil in those engines and it would work well enough.

      Anyways, as a long term solution it would be better to electrify the long distance rail lines in the US, than to use biofuels (though in the interim it helps). If the Russians can power the trans-Siberian railroad with electricity, then the US should be able to do the same.