By shipping freight by rail instead of entirely over the road, the railway’s customers eliminated the consumption and resultant emissions from more than three billion gallons of diesel fuel, equivalent to six million passenger vehicles. Moving a ton of freight by rail rather than by truck cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, the company said.
This was the fifth straight year that BNSF provided its intermodal, automotive, industrial products, and agricultural products customers with customized letters that analyzed their total rail carbon footprint savings compared to movement of those shipments exclusively over the highway. It reported similar total emissions savings for 2011 as for 2012.
Calculations are based on commodity type and weight, and distance traveled by rail. The reports also consider the different fuel efficiencies of trailer, container or carload shipments. BNSF developed the calculation methodology in consultation with Clear Carbon Consulting.
Earlier this year, a report by energy services company McKinstry found that shipping a container on the Cold Train refrigerated express intermodal service between Chicago and Port of Quincy, Wash., reduces the shipment’s carbon footprint by 52 percent compared to a long-haul truck – validating a previous estimate by BNSF.
The company has also said that in 2013, it will begin testing a small number of locomotives using liquefied natural gas, as a low-emissions alternative to diesel fuel. The railroad has been working with two principal locomotive manufacturers, GE and EMD, a unit of Caterpillar, to develop the natural gas engine technology for the pilot.
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, BNSF Railway operates on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and two Canadian provinces.