31 Chicago-Area Locomotives on CNG

October 28, 2013 in CNG, Rail by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Indiana Harbor Belt Has CMAQ Nod for $59 Million Re-Power Project,
Is Eyeing MP&ES Using Cummins QSK Engines & EcoDual Dual Fuel Kits

The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad is moving to convert 31 switcher locomotives to compressed natural gas operation as the centerpiece of a five-year, $59.15 million project backed by CMAQ, the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.

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A GP-40 locomotive operated by Indiana Harbor Belt.

A GP-40 locomotive operated by Indiana Harbor Belt.

“This is a huge trend change in the rail industry,” says David Wilkerson, president of Greenville, S.C.-based Motive Power & Equipment Solutions, which is a leading contender to re-power the IHB locomotives, using Cummins QSK-series engines.

IHB schematics show the original EMD GP-40 locomotive and the planned layout of the CNG dual fuel MP3000-B2DF.

IHB schematics show the original EMD GP-40 locomotive and the planned layout of the CNG dual fuel MP3000-B2DF.

‘We’re on the leading edge,” says IHB project manager Mike Nicoletti.

The CMAQ award has been approved, but no contracts have been signed, he cautions. CMAP, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, handles the area’s CMAQ awards. The Illinois EPA is project sponsor.

Cummins QSK19L and QSK38L Engines

If all goes as planned, MP&ES would modify the Cummins engines with natural gas-diesel dual fuel kits from Beaufort, S.C.-based EcoDual, states IHB’s CMAQ application. Engineers are targeting “an 80% or greater natural gas to diesel replacement.”

Cummins QSK19L engines with EcoDual upfits are to be used for 21 EMD SW1500 locomotives, to be re-named MP1500-B2DF.

Cummins QSK38L engines with EcoDual upfits are to be used for 10 GP-40 locomotives, to be re-named MP3000-B2DF.

CNG Seen Adequate – ‘the Clear Choice for What We Do’

Five locomotives are to be delivered next year, and nine in each of the years 2015 and 2016, with eight in 2017 for a total of 31.

IHB operates a total of 46 diesel locomotives. The railroad is the largest switch carrier in the U.S. with 54 miles of mainline track and 266 miles of additional yard and siding track. It serves 160 customers in the Chicago area with some 1,400 freight cars geared predominately to the steel industry.

IHB's Chicago-area service territory

IHB’s Chicago-area service territory

A $6.45 Million CNG Fueling Station

Also according to the IHB application, each locomotive is to be fitted with 15 CNG cylinders holding a total of 434 DGE – diesel gallon equivalents. MP&ES is to use high-impact Type II CNG tanks with steel liners and a wire or fiber overwrap.

CNG, says IHB project manager Nicoletti, is “the clear choice for what we do,” given the modest range demands on the railroad’s locomotives.

And, he told HHP Insight, “We’re captive,” meaning that IHB does all its own fueling, so won’t have to depend on other railroads for natural gas infrastructure.

IHB estimates that each locomotive will use approximately 319 of its 434 DGEs per week. Multiple CNG inlets and hoses could reduce fueling time to as little as ten to 15 minutes.

The CMAQ grant is for $38.45 million; IHB is to contribute an additional $20.7 million. Approximately $6.45 million of the total is for a new CNG station to be built on IHB premises in Hammond, Ind. Two NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company) pipelines serve the Hammond IHB facility.

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Source: Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad with HHP Insight follow-up

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