Grand Canyon Railway to fuel train with recycled vegetable oil on Earth Day

April 22, 2013

Grand Canyon Railway is celebrating Earth Day today by reducing its carbon footprint.  The 90-year-old locomotive will take tourists on a trip from Williams to the canyon using vegetable oil to fire the steam engine.

steam engine The Grand Canyon Railway will take tourists on a trip from Williams to the canyon using vegetable oil to fire the steam engine to celebrate Earth Day.(Photo courtesy of Weber Shandwick)

Some train enthusiasts call it the “French Fry Express” because of the smell the burning vegetable oil creates.

Grand Canyon Railway manager Bob Baker said it is the first passenger railroad in the U.S. to use recycled cooking grease from area restaurants to power the engine.

“Prior to this we were burning 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel on each round trip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and we now use a commodity, the waste vegetable oil," Baker said, "and we actually purchase it by the pound, but the vegetable oil does not produce significant emissions."

Starting in May, Grand Canyon Railway will use vegetable oil for trips on the first Saturday of each month through September.

Baker said the train has a little less muscle power using the recycled oil, but it is still able to make the 125 mile round trip on schedule.

He said the railway uses vegetable oil left over from the train rides to fuel the furnace that heats the Grand Canyon train station. 


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