Posted: March 26, 2015 | Senator Gerzofsky, Transportation

Measure would reduce train emissions statewide


AUGUSTA – The public came out in force today to strongly support a measure that would reduce the amount of emissions released into the air from idling trains in Maine.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick

“Maine is world renowned for its ‘way of life’. We take pride in keeping our highways clear of billboards, our rivers and lakes clean of pollutants, and our air fresh of toxins,” said Democratic Senator Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick, the bill’s sponsor. “And because of our work over the years to strive for these protections, we can enjoy and appreciate Maine’s environment. Unfortunately, for some, air quality is threatened by unnecessary idling trains nearby residential neighborhoods, daycares, stores, and other public locations.”


The bill, LD 439, “An Act to Prohibit Excessive Idling of Passenger Trains,” would prohibit a passenger train engine from operating for more than 30 minutes while the train is stopped. Exceptions would be allowed for passenger trains that are being repaired or serviced that require the engine to be running; or, if the passenger train is delivering or accepting merchandise or passengers that require engine-assisted power.


At the public hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, Senator Gerzofsky and others suggested using idle-control devices as a solution to the problem of idling trains. The devices, which are used in trains around the world, help trains eliminate the need for idling by maintaining temperatures more efficiently, curbing emissions, and reducing fuel consumption and the cost involved with keeping a train idling for long periods of time.

Engine idling is one of the top factors contributing to high locomotive emissions. Due to severe winter temperatures, idling is of particular concern in New England. Some of the most common reasons for idling include ensuring the engine is ready for immediate use, avoiding difficult start-ups due to a cold engine or a weak battery, and preventing freezing inside the engine. Train engines do not use antifreeze, so temperatures below 40ºF can damage an engine. By idling, the engine maintains the temperature of the fuel, oil, and water circulating throughout the engine.


“Trains play a vital role in transportation for commerce and travel, and we are fortunate to have the Downeaster to move people in, out, and around our state. We want passenger rail here,” said Senator Gerzofsky.


Adding, “There are many other states with anti-idling laws in already in place and without any problems. We should be doing the same.”


Residents, local officials, and legislators from Brunswick and Portland spoke in support of the bill. The Transportation Committee will schedule a work session on the bill in the coming weeks.