Union Pacific will increase the amount of biodiesel that fuels locomotives used for Progress Rail.

Progress Rail, a Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) subsidiary that provides rolling stock and infrastructure solutions to rail customers worldwide, has agreed to use up to a 20% biodiesel blend for specific electro-motive diesel locomotives operated by UP (NYSE: UNP). The previous level that locomotives could use was a 5% biodiesel blend. 

Increasing the biodiesel content is part of a broader effort to reduce carbon emissions, according to both companies. Before deciding to increase the biodiesel blend, the companies conducted tests on the high-horsepower locomotives, monitoring their performance and fuel consumption, including how the increased biodiesel blend impacted engine oil and fuel filters, the companies said in a joint release. Progress Rail is also undergoing additional testing and development, they said.

“Union Pacific is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint, and this is another step toward achieving our long-term goal to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 26% by 2030,” said Beth Whited, UP chief human resource officer. “We continue to identify opportunities to increase low carbon fuel usage in our locomotives and appreciate Progress Rail’s partnership in our efforts.”

“At Progress Rail, we are committed to offering sustainable solutions by providing products that facilitate fuel transition, increase operational efficiency and reduce emissions,” said Progress Rail President and CEO Marty Haycraft. “Through continually investing in new products, technologies and services, we offer a wide range of fuel flexibility, making a meaningful, positive impact on the environment and supporting our customers in achieving their GHG reduction goals.”

According to UP’s 2020 sustainability report published in May, UP used more renewable and biodiesel fuel in 2020. Emissions from biomass sources in 2020 were 187,265 metric tons, with 53%, or 98,930 metric tons, coming from renewable fuels. In comparison, biomass source emissions were 127,645 metric tons in 2019, with 39%, or 49,555 metric tons, coming from renewable fuels. 

UP attributed the increase in emissions from biomass sources between 2019 and 2020 to an increase in renewable diesel consumption. Consumption increased by almost 5 million gallons between the two years, UP said.

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