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Metrolink marks first of 15 'green' locomotives with fizzy wine

April 23, 2008 |  3:31 pm

Champagne_and_locomotives_2 The effects of Earth Day keep trickling down. Our traffic guru, Steve Hymon, took time out from stop-and-go traffic to watch city officials squirt fizzy wine (Barefoot Bubbly, bought by Metrolink honcho Keith Millhouse) at a train. He explains why:

Metrolink, the Southland's commuter rail service, celebrated the first of its new 'green' locomotives at its Taylor Yard facilities. Although this $1.9-million, 3,600-horsepower bad boy (or girl) only gets one half-mile to the gallon, its emissions of various ingredients that contribute to smog are 40% to 70% less than current engines, Metrolink officials said. They who challenged freight haulers to clean up their notoriously dirty choo-choos.

This is the first of 15 new locomotives purchased by the railroad and, because they're more powerful than the current fleet, the hope is to use them to pull longer trains that can carry more passengers.

"We're not that gigantic in terms of how many people we now carry," said David Solow, the chief executive of Metrolink. "But if we can take 5 to 10% of the traffic off the freeway, that would really affect traffic flows."

If the trains are a success, maybe next time the opening ceremonies can graduate to actual Champagne.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Steve Hymon / Los Angeles Times