Environment & Science

Metrolink wants new diesel-powered locomotives to take you to work


Southern California's commuter rail system will begin testing new diesel-powered locomotives this weekend along railways in Pasadena, Pomona, San Dimas, La Verne, Glendora, Azusa and Irwindale, according to Metrolink. 

The Federal Railroad Administration gave Metrolink approval to begin limited testing of locomotives at Keller Yard on June 1. This weekend's tests will look to see how they hold up while actually pulling train cars, according to Metrolink.

The new locomotives meet the Environmental Protection Agency's most stringent emission standards and, once implemented, will result in an 85 percent reduction in emissions compared to the agency's older cars, according to Metrolink.

"They are a lot different," agency spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt told KPCC. "They are sleeker. They're silver. They have a nice teal strip down the side. They're certainly eye catching in that they look state of the art."

Residents near testing sites might see the locomotives hooked up to passenger cars, Coffelt said. But they won't be carrying passengers — they're empty except for sandbags used to simulate the weight of human riders. 

The tests will continue for two to three months, she said. If all goes well, passengers could be riding the lower-emission trains by this fall. If any of the tests are unsuccessful, the agency will have to rethink its implementation strategy.

If successful, Metrolink could become the first passenger rail service in the United States to put these locomotives into use, according to Coffelt. The federally mandated testing is scheduled to expand to the Antelope Valley Line on June 13 and the Orange County Line June 27. 

Testing will take place during the day to prevent disturbance to communities at night, Coffelt added.