Trash dump express: New fuel-efficient locomotive rolls out in Williamsburg

Trash dump express: New fuel-efficient locomotive rolls out in Williamsburg
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Waste honchos at a trash hauling business showed off a new “green” locomotive at a Williamsburg industrial yard on Sept. 26, which will help keep Kings County clean in more ways than one, according to an executive at the garbage company.

“It’s a much cleaner burning locomotive, much more fuel efficient,” said Jim Van Woert, director of diversion strategies at Waste Management.

The new low-emission train will halve the amount of pollutants Waste Management pumps into the air while hauling trash from the Varick Avenue train yard to a transferring station in Queens, Van Woert said.

The company — which hauls mostly residential and some commercial garbage for the city — purchased the $2.9 million locomotive with help from a $1 million grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency in late 2018.

The new locomotives replace units from the mid-1970s and run at the federal agency’s Tier 4 emissions standards, which demands reduced levels of the harmful pollutant sulfur to 15 parts per million, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The green engine runs at 2,350 horsepower, and generates enough spare juice to produce torque in a smaller train unit, called a slug, which together allow the train to haul a whopping 2,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day, according to James Bonner, president of the New York and Atlantic Railway, the private company that owns the freight railroads.

This reporter joined train conductor Jeffrey Huelstrunk as he guided the hulking trash hauler at a leisurely 10-miles-per hour through the industrial hinterlands of Williamsburg and Bushwick, occasionally stopping at street crossings to give his colleague a chance to halt traffic.

Every once and while a motorist would idle their vehicle too close the tracks, but that just gave the engineer an opportunity to lay onto the train’s awesome horn.

“It happens,” he said.

The green train won’t revolutionize the waste collecting business, but Brooklynites living along the tracks should be able to breath easier thanks to the new green train, Van Woert said.

“We’re doing the same thing every day, we’re just doing it with less of an impact on the environment and the neighboring community,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Reporter Kevin Duggan got a front-row seat on a recent ride with community leaders and politicians.
Photo by Trey Pentecost