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Climate and Environment

LA’s Metrolink Is Off Petroleum, Switching To Fully Renewable Diesel

A close-up of two bottles with clear fluid, which say "renewable fuelf" and "petroleum diesel." In the background is the front of a metrolink railcar.
Metrolink officials celebrated the pivot from fueling its fleet with petroleum diesel to renewable bio-diesel on April 13, 2022.
(Courtesy of Metrolink)
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It doesn’t matter where you punched your ticket — you could be inbound from Ventura, Lancaster, San Bernardino, Perris or San Clemente — if you’re on a Metrolink railcar, you’re riding renewable.

The far-reaching Los Angeles commuter rail agency announced Wednesday that it had achieved a milestone outlined in its March 2021 Climate Action Plan — transitioning its entire locomotive fleet from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel.

Making the switch will also help cut costs to the tune of $640,000 for the transit agency, according to Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson.

"Despite the increase in gas prices that everyone is familiar with, it's actually 8 cents per gallon cheaper to use the renewable fuel than our prior diesel provider,” Johnson said.

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The transit system operates seven rail lines along 538 miles of track that stretch across six Southern California counties. According to Metrolink, the rail agency is the first in the country to fully transition to renewable fuel.

Switching to renewable diesel will reduce the amount of particulate matter and carbon emissions, Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle explained during an April 5 meeting of the board.

“It’s derived primarily from vegetable oils and animal fats...but the bottom line is it is not petroleum…it is diesel fuel,” Kettle continued.

Metrolink is currently sourcing this fuel from Singapore and Finland, but it should be able to access fuel in California when a new facility goes online here next year, Kettle said.

In its 2021 Climate Action Plan, Metrolink estimates that switching to renewable would result in the following emissions reductions:

  • up 80% reduction in carbon dioxide
  • 5% annual decrease in HC
  • 10% annual decrease in NOx
  • 30% annual decrease in PM 
  • 35% annual decrease in carbon monoxide

The plan lists 2028 as Metrolink’s “Moon Shot” goal of being 100% zero emissions by transitioning the full fleet to alternative propulsion technologies.

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