Trucking to rail: clean up your engines

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: StonePhotos /

ATA believes engine emission controls need to be imposed on freight trains.

Trucking to rail: clean up your engines
A typical freight train emits more pollution than 140 new trucks, the ATA claims.

The truck lobby will back moves to impose strict engine emission controls on the rail freight industry similar to those in place for heavy vehicle operators.   

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has echoed comments made by federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly about the need for standards to be introduced to limit particulate matter emissions from freight trains.   

ATA government relations and communications manager Bill McKinley says the advent of Euro engines has significantly reduced the level of particulate emissions from trucks.   

"The trucking industry has seen a very significant improvement in the emissions from truck engines and we haven’t seen that same improvement from the rail side," McKinley says.   

"We believe that rail locomotives should be subject to the same standards, or at least comparable standards, to the trucking industry."  

Like Kelly, the ATA believes emission controls are essential for trains travelling through urban areas.  

"Particularly when they are used in large metropolitan areas, like metro Sydney for example, they should be subject to emission controls," McKinley says.   

The ATA has previously advocated the need for rail to agree to emission controls and update its ageing rolling stock.   

In 2011, ATA chief executive Stuart St Clair claimed a typical locomotive emitted more pollution than 140 new trucks.   

He says that since the introduction of pollution controls on trucks in 1995, new models emit 92 per cent fewer particulates compared to a truck sold 19 years ago.   

Kelly last week argued against pushing more freight to be carried on rail. He says doing so will only increase pollution unless emission controls are imposed on trains.   

The body representing the rail sector, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), does concede more needs to be done to reduce the sector’s emissions.   

"Despite its obvious social, environmental and economic advantages, investment is needed in Australia’s freight network and locomotives. Some locomotives are operating with diesel engines that are more than 40 years old," it says.

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