Despite revised plans, Metra still to benefit from Volkswagen settlement

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An inbound Metra train pushed by F40PHM-2 No. 212 smokes away from the Naperville, Ill., station while Amtrak's Illinois Zephyr prepares to depart behind a new Siemens Charger locomotive.

TRAINS: David Lassen

CHICAGO — While Illinois plans for spending money from the Volkswagen legal settlement have changed, Metra’s locomotive fleet will still benefit.

The original plans for the $108 million the state will receive, as a result of Volkswagen’s settlement for circumventing clean-air regulations on its diesel automobiles, would have spent the majority of the funds on non-highway technologies, such as Metra’s locomotives. [See “Metra could benefit from Volkswagen settlement," Trains News Wire, May 11, 2018.]

The Chicago Tribune reports that those plans have been adjusted after complaints from environment groups, and now will include more funding for electric school buses, other on-road vehicle projects, and electric vehicle charging stations.

But some funds will still be available to Metra. The first $20 million installment of the settlement funds will be directed toward commuter rail and public transit buses.

“Commuter rail projects will remove some of the oldest, dirtiest diesel engines in Illinois from service,” Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Alec Messina said, in a statement Wednesday from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office quoted by the Tribune. “Funding replacement of transit buses will promote all-electric and alternate fuel technology and funding for electric school buses will protect the public health of some of our most vulnerable Illinoisans.”

Some of Metra’s locomotives date to 1977 and are notorious for their fuel consumption and pollution. Part of the fleet is scheduled to be replaced soon by surplus Amtrak locomotives, and the commuter railroad has estimated that those locomotives will pay for themselves in fuel costs alone.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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