Alex Barron, a brakeman switcher, and Robert Clary, lead engineer with the Fort Bliss rail operations center, perform an initial brake test on a GenSet locomotive | Photo By Sgt. Todd Robinson |

Fort Bliss’ ‘Red Engine’ Turned Green

Locomotives from Fort Bliss have been hauling military vehicles and equipment for deployment and training for years; over the last few years they have gone green in attempts to save money on the cost of fuel and minimize pollution.

Recently, Fort Bliss has been phasing out the older less fuel efficient locomotives with a newer engine called the GenSet.

GenSet technology, short for Generator Set or sets of engines turning a generator replaces the large diesel engine and generator found in almost all existing freight locomotives with two or three much smaller diesel engines and generators.

The GenSets have three smaller engines that power up as needed to be more environmentally friendly, and is 25 percent more fuel efficient than a conventional locomotive.

These smaller engines are similar to large off-road diesel engines and are Environmental Protection Agency Tier II, Tier III or soon to be even Tier IV railroad compliant to meet EPA mandates.

The locomotives currently used at Fort Bliss include two 2009 Gen Set first generation Eco-friendly models and a 1953 General Purpose 1600hp locomotive and expect to receive a new third generation GenSet in July.

Fort Bliss was the first installation to receive this type of locomotive.

“The new locomotives are nice and quiet and smooth,” said Gilbert Duran an engineer with the Fort Bliss Unit Movement Branch. “They have more weight giving them more traction and pulling power.”

Since 1980, railroads have made improvements in their equipment and efficiency of operations making 80 percent more fuel efficient today. The GenSet Locomotive adds its fuel efficiency to that 80 percent gain already realized.

Railroads are already four times more fuel efficient than any land-based form of transportation. A train can haul 1 ton of freight 436 miles on one gallon of fuel.

Train traffic remains one of the biggest contributors to air pollution across the nation; GenSet technology locomotives produce 16 percent less greenhouse emissions than their previous counterpart diesel electric locomotives.

Over the next 20 years the Army plans to replace all of its aging conventional rolling stock with more efficient diesel engines that reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 80 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 65 percent and nearly cut fuel costs in half.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, nationwide its emission standards for diesel engines will result in a 90 percent reduction of particulate matter and 80 percent nitrous oxide reductions from Tier IV engines meeting these standards, compared to engines meeting the current Tier II standards.

“We are becoming a premier rail facility,” said Robert W. Clary, lead engineer with rail operations at the UMB. “With the expansion of Fort Bliss and the planned expansion of the rail yard; we can put out more equipment proficiently and safely.

Clary plans, coordinates and runs rail operations on Fort Bliss, transporting vehicles, containers, equipment and hazardous materials to ports, training centers and anywhere inside the continental United States.

“The older model locomotives had 16 massive cylinders, but the new ones have smaller more efficient engines, that wastes less power and fuel and creates fewer emissions. It’s still a new system, but we don’t have the black smoke we used to have over the yard,” said Clary.

Author:  Sgt. Todd Robinson  – 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element