On its daily four-hour trip across a swath of southwest oil country Tuesday, Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer was blazing a new trail of sorts: one fueled by biodiesel. The run marks the Earth Week inauguration of a 12-month test of alternative fuels along the 206-mile route.
The fuel, a blend of 80% diesel and 20% beef by–product (if the train industry is shunning Texas oilmen, at least they’re tossing a shank bone to region’s cattle industry), performed well in lab test. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions were reduced by 10%, particulates by 15%, and sulfates by 20%, so hopes are high for the track test.
And, no, the fuel does not smell like burgers.
The Heartland Flyer, which operates between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, has already seen beefed-up rider numbers in the past year. The line hopes to win over more passengers with its planet-friendly initiatives and its offer of half-priced companion fares with advanced ticket bookings through May 26. (For more information or to book, please visit heartlandflyer.com and use fare code H838.)
Throughout American history, cattle ranchers have fought the advances of the railroad, but this beef-fueled initiative may change all that.
- Fueling Flights With Algae
Ann Shields is senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.