Attention, eco-travelers: traveling by Amtrak, America’s most extensive rail system, may soon be a more viable option for green travel enthusiasts. Amtrak has recently joined the Climate Registry, a non-profit dedicated to helping businesses calculate and report their greenhouse gas emissions transparently. As part of Amtrak’s attempts to become greener, it has pledged to reduce emissions (from diesel locomotives) by six percent from 2003 through 2010.
According to an Amtrak press release, it will reduce emissions through a number of measures: it will adopt comprehensive reporting standards for greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives (diesel and electric), passenger rail cars, maintenance equipment, and facilities. It will also reduce the idling time for diesel locomotives and use regenerative braking systems for electric locomotives (thus returning energy to the grid).
Amtrak has taken a number of additional sustainability-related actions. It is already a charter member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, North America’s only “cap and trade” system for all six greenhouse gasses. Recently, Amtrak joined Climate Counts, which rates companies’ carbon footprint reduction, their publicizing of that reduction, and their support of climate change legislation. Amtrak is also seeking to utilize lighter, more aerodynamic carrier cars and bio-lubricants for hydraulic systems. Amtrak customers may purchase carbon offsets (from a non-profit organization, Cargonfund.org); the funds benefit alternative energy or sustainable reforestation projects. And finally, Amtrak added solar arrays to a facility in New Jersey last fall.