Tacoma authorizes $4M in federal grants to purchase two electric locomotives



(The Center Square) – The Tacoma City Council has authorized $4 million in grant funding from the Federal Railroad Administration to assist with the acquisition of two zero-emission locomotives and installation of the charging infrastructure.

The two battery-electric switcher locomotives that Tacoma Rail intends to purchase will replace two diesel-electric switcher locomotives that were built in 1965.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant program funds projects that improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail. It awarded Tacoma the $4 million in 2022.

Nearly two years later and the city council has now approved moving the federal grant dollars to the Tacoma Rail Fund.

The Tacoma Rail Battery-Electric Switcher Locomotive Replacement Project aligns with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s criteria by improving system and service performance and resilience due to it advancing freight rail electrification technology in the region as part of a plan to reduce toxic diesel emissions and greenhouse gasses.

In addition to the $4 million grant, Tacoma Rail was also awarded $5 million from the Washington state Department of Transportation Climate Commitment Act, $3.3 million from the Volkswagen Enforcement Action Grant, and $3.5 million from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, according to Jessica Wilson with Tacoma Public Utilities.

A presentation on the Tacoma Rail Battery-Electric Switcher Locomotive Replacement Project from 2022 revealed the project is expected to total $11.7 million.

Upon completion, the project is expected to improve air quality by eliminating emissions associated with the annual consumption of approximately 65,000 gallons of diesel fuel from Tacoma Rail’s operational activities.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Quantifier, the ​​Tacoma Rail Battery-Electric Switcher Locomotive Replacement Project will result in approximately $380,000 per year in health benefits due to reduced exposure to diesel pollution.

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