Created specifically for port, mining, industrial in-plant, and commercial yard switching (shunting) applications, the Railserve LEAF® Low-Emission Locomotive maximizes tractive effort while minimizing fuel costs and emissions.
The term hybrid refers to the type of engines used to provide power to the wheels of the locomotive. Where a conventional locomotive would use one large (typically 1,500 hp to 3,000+ hp) diesel electric engine, the hybrid uses one to three smaller, modern, ultra-low emissions, diesel electric engines to provide the power. A computer controls this set of smaller engines for maximum efficiency — starting and stopping each engine as needed for the power require
LEAF locomotives are also equipped with advanced control logic that increases tractive effort by about 15% tightly controlling the wheel RPM and ground speed. The improvement in tractive effort further reduces the need for additional horsepower. The long-term fuel savings from a genset, when compared to a conventional locomotive, can be quite remarkable. Most genset locomotives are programmed to shutdown after the locomotive has not moved for five minutes, thus greatly reducing idle time. Start times for the genset are also much shorter than a conventional locomotive. A genset can be re-started at the push of a button, while the conventional locomotive engine has a lengthy 30 minute startup process.
The engines used in modern gensets emit 80+% less NOx from the fuel that is burned. Further, because they are more fuel efficient, they reduce the CO2 emissions dramatically. Each gallon of diesel that is burned yields 22.4 lbs of CO2. Thus, if a genset locomotive replaces a conventional diesel locomotive, the 50% fuel savings will often generate over 250,000 lbs less CO2. The lower fuel consumption of a genset greatly reduces the NOx emissions and will usually meet EPA Tier 3 emission standards for diesel powered locomotives. This is why genset locomotives are considered "green and clean."
Gensets vary in cost, but some models are known to be comparable in price to an older, 30 to 40-year-old locomotive. Gensets however, meet more stringent EPA standards and have more readily available parts than older locomotives. All this combined with the fuel savings make genset locomotives a great choice for most yard switching applications and certain short line or line haul operations.
Today, most of the early issues with gensets—such as slow loading, software glitches, electrical problems, and parts availability—have been all but eliminated by manufacturers who have studied and resolved the underlying causes. Railserve LEAF Program Manager T.J. Mahoney says railroads and industrial users looking to upgrade their switchers should reevaluate technical advances using the latest data to see if modern gensets are an appropriate addition to their current fleet. Railserve—both a switching company and manufacturer of the LEAF locomotive—has committed to not only producing and selling gensets, but has also outfitted its nationwide switching locations with more than 50 of its own single-engine and dual-engine LEAF locomotives. Consequently, the success of Railserve’s own rail operation depends on the success of these units, as do the operations of its locomotive customers. According to Mahoney, every LEAF deployed in the last nine to 10 years is still going strong, and Railserve’s knowledge base related to service and repair has been made fully available to all its customers. “Railserve has made a long-term commitment to the LEAF platform and provides complete lifecycle support for all LEAF units,” said Mahoney. There is now more than 10 years of data on LEAF genset performance, and Mahoney says the most recent numbers demonstrate that the genset is a powerful, reliable, and sustainable switching locomotive. “These are genset locomotives created specifically for industrial in-plant and commercial yard switching. When they are used in that environment, we’ve seen our Railserve LEAF units efficiently pull 45 to 70 railcars up to 10 mph, cut NOx by 92 percent, and particulates by 99 percent. The LEAF saves 45–60 percent on fuel and reduces lubricant use by 80 percent." ~T.J. Mahoney.
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