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Chicago Rail Hub to Get More Efficient, with Fewer Emissions

railwayIf your business ships freight or other goods through the Chicago rail distribution hub, things are going to be running a bit smoother in the future thanks to a big chunk of the Department of Transportation’s $1.5 billion in infrastructure grants, reports the New York Times. The projects are also expected to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Illinois received one of the top two DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, totaling $100 million, which will help fund the CREATE program of 78 projects that tackle freight rail congestion in the Chicago area. Click here (PDF) for a complete list of grants.

Several criteria were used to select the award winners including their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve safety and the condition of the existing transportation system, and their contribution to the economic competitiveness of the U.S., according to a DOT press release.

Chicago was a likely candidate for the funds, because so many of the nation’s freight railroads converge there. In fact, the only three cities to outrank Chicago in cargo are Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, according to the New York Times.

While railway systems appear to the be winners of DOT’s funding, more freight gets shipped via trucks and planes, which are faster but less energy efficient than trains and barges, according to the DOT, reports the New York Times.

But a January DOT report reveals that even a 20 percent shift in shipments from trucks to rail wouldn’t make a big difference in emission reductions, while a doubling of truck fuel economy would yield a much larger benefit, according to the article.

Over the past few years, freight railroads have started to promote railways as the most energy-efficient way to move goods as they’ve transitioned to ultra-low emission engines.

In February, BNSF Railway inked a deal to measure, report and reduce its energy costs and usage, which will also help the railway reduce carbon emissions. But other railways like CSX have already pledged to reduce its C02 emissions by millions of tons.

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