BNSF Railroad is Converting to Natural Gas!

Did you know that billionaire Warren Buffet owns the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad?

Well at least his holding company Berkshire Hathaway does.  An interesting fact is that railroads account for 40% of the total freight hauled in the United States.  That’s a tremendous amount of goods shipped on our nations rails.  Railroads are the most environmentally friendly type of transport our country has (so BNSF says).  Railroads save fuel, reduce emissions and reduce highway traffic congestion.  Read about Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad by going to the link below;

This is a great statistic!

Railroads can move one ton of freight 495 miles with just one gallon of diesel!

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.  The real reason is that Warren Buffet is moving to convert his fleet of railroad diesel engines into natural gas burning engines.  He currently has companies like General Electric working on an efficient Rail Engine that runs on natural gas.    Natural gas when burnt emits less Carbon Dioxide and other Green House Gases (GHGs) than diesel fuel.  Not only that, economically it will drive a new generation of companies to produce the necessary parts and fittings to make this transformation work.

There will be less GHGs generated by switching to Natural gas.  The question is how much less?

“Natural gas burns cleaner than conventional gasoline or diesel due to its lower carbon content. When used as a vehicle fuel, it can offer life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions benefits over conventional fuels, depending on vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration. In addition, using natural gas may reduce some types of tailpipe emissions.”

Check out the U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center for additional information concerning the burning of natural gas.  See the link below for that information.

Okay, back to the Question…How Much Less?

Well it’s hard to say, in one study it says 6-11 % in  conventional vehicles.  The big question is how much of a reduction in carbon emissions could natural gas burning in Train Engines produce?  I’m pretty sure there have not been studies yet completed for natural gas burning Train Engines.  One thing you can count on is that there will be less black carbon spewed into the air!

Coal burning Locomotive

Coal burning Locomotive

Is Warren Buffet an Environmentalist?

Well to a certain extent you might say so. Railroads are undoubtedly more environmentally friendly than Big Rig Semis that run across the country tearing up our highways.  The fact of the matter is that Mr. Buffet has major holdings in natural gas.  If he converts his Railroad locomotives to natural gas and it proves financially beneficial, the future will undoubtedly be that other railways will follow suit.  The result being more and more plentiful, clean burning natural gas will be sought by the railroad industry.  So that’s probably one reason he is a billionaire.

In the long run this is all good news. Is it a cure to the worlds climate change issues…probably not.  Any positive steps to reduce carbon emissions should be welcomed.  So for your next cross country trip…take a train!

BSNF to run on Natural Gas!

BSNF to run on Natural Gas!


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Environment, Natural Gas, Trains and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to BNSF Railroad is Converting to Natural Gas!

  1. I’ve always been a supporter of railroads in the scheme of transportation and reduction of pollutants. Way to go Mr. Buffet

  2. BattyLady says:

    Natural gas is the cleanest fuel (other than the sun), but we need to be mindful of how derive this source.

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