Sierra Northern Railway’s Hydrogen Innovation Wins Environmental Award for California’s First Zero-Emission Locomotive

By April 2, 2024 2   min read  (416 words)

April 2, 2024 |

2024 04 01 16 36 10 2

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif.— West Sacramento-based Sierra Northern Railway (SERA) has received the esteemed Environmental Award from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) for its leadership in sustainable rail transport innovations.

The award recognizes Sierra Northern’s launch of California’s first zero-emission Hydrogen Switcher Locomotive and the creation of the Inland Port and Transload facility in California’s Central Valley that mark monumental steps toward bolstering sustainability in freight movement.

Sierra Northern is honored to receive the ASLRRA Environmental Award, which reflects our unwavering commitment to pioneer environmentally sustainable practices across the rail industry,” said Ken Beard, CEO of Sierra Northern.

Sierra Northern’s Hydrogen Switcher Locomotive project began when the California Energy Commission in 2021 awarded the company nearly $4 million to fund design, integrate, and demonstrate a zero-emission switching locomotive. Sierra Northern in 2023 received an additional $19.5 million from the State of California to expand those efforts with three additional switching locomotives. Testing is expected to start later in 2024. The company by 2027 will have a fleet of four hydrogen-fueled switching locomotives operating in the Sacramento region. This will pave the way for its entire fleet and more than 260 switchers operated by short lines throughout California to be converted to a zero-emission solution.

Sierra Northern’s Oakdale Inland Port and Transload facility was heralded by ASLRRA as a model for sustainable freight logistics. By transitioning agricultural commodities from road to rail, the project significantly cuts truck traffic and emissions, thereby increasing safety and improving air quality for the Central Valley’s communities.

ASLRRA President Chuck Baker highlighted SERA’s innovative client service approach, which spurred the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program-funded expansion of the inland port and construction of the intermodal transload facility. “The Sierra Northern Railroad’s commitment…with a goal of reducing the environmental footprint of transportation in the breadbasket region of California, showcases SERA’s pivotal role in improving congestion, air quality, and opening up new markets,” he said.

“Through strategic partnerships and community engagement, SERA has amplified the environmental benefits of its projects, reinforcing rail as a cleaner freight alternative. By heavily investing in both its zero-emission hydrogen locomotive efforts and its Oakdale Inland Port and Transload facility, we have and will continue to lead the industry in emission reductions,” said Sierra Northern CEO Beard.

For more information about Sierra Northern Railway’s initiatives, please visit:


SOURCE: Sierra Northern Railway


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