Learn about how Gen Set locomotives reduce CO2 emissions and make shipping greener.


Did you know that Norfolk Southern’s black locomotives are becoming more and more green? Evolving technology is reducing fuel consumption and benefitting the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A Gen Set Locomotive is a locomotive that has three separate smaller engines compared to the one large engine in a conventional locomotive. What this does is gives us horsepower on demand, which is the ability to tailor our horsepower output to the train weight and the territory the train’s gonna travel over. A Gen Set Locomotive is 25 percent more fuel efficient than a conventional locomotive. The less fuel you burn, the fewer emissions you emit. And the less fuel you burn, the less money you're spending on fuel. So, it saves us money and reduces emissions at the same time. That’s what we have here, is the fuel tank. This thing holds 3,000 gallons. With 25 percent fuel savings, every time we fill this up, we save 750 gallons of fuel. 

750 gallons, I could fill up my car 50 times with that.

50 times.

Gen Set Locomotive technology is technology that’s here now and it’s in use. Railroads are already four times more fuel efficient than any land-based form of transportation. We can haul one ton of freight 436 miles on one gallon of fuel. Trucks can't compete with that. Even with hybrid technology, they won’t be able to touch it. In addition to that, we’re actually working on hybrid locomotive technology that’ll make us even more efficient in the future. 

The Gen Set engine is extremely fuel efficient. Is that the trend that we’re heading towards in the rail industry today?

That’s right, Beth. A lot of people don't know that since 1980, the railroad’s made improvements in their equipment and efficiency of operations that make us 80 percent more fuel efficient than we were back then. This Gen Set Locomotive is another 25 percent more fuel-efficient than that 80 percent gain we’ve already realized. As you can see here, Beth, we’re moving along fairly slow. We have one engine online. As our engineer, Art, here demands more horsepower, another engine will come online to satisfy the need. 

Does it also come on if you have a heavier load or you're trying to go up a steeper grade?

That’s correct. If we were rolling along and we hit a hill all of a sudden and we needed more horsepower to maintain the speed that the engineer was asking for, another engine would start up or two more would start up depending on how much you need.  

Wow. And then you can cut it back down when you don't need that extra.

It does it automatically. All he has to do is pull the throttle out or set it back and the locomotive will take care of the rest.

As you can see, technology continues to transform the rail industry into a much more eco-friendly business. The Gen Set engine is just one example of the many green initiatives that Norfolk Southern is implementing. 

Norfolk Southern believes being a good environmental steward is part of being a responsible corporation.

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Gen Set: Green Locomotives Cut Fuel Consumption by 25%
Gen Set: Green Locomotives Cut Fuel Consumption by 25%