Published 6:09 p.m., Sunday, October 14, 2012
On a 300-mile stretch of railroad in the plains of eastern Alberta, a test train chugs across the landscape burning a fuel that once made sense only to environmentalists.
It runs on natural gas. And today, that makes sense to business leaders whose top priority is cutting costs.
Over the past two weeks, train industry executives and others have been talking more about natural gas, as meetings in Houston and the Chicago area highlighted bubbling interest in a fuel that could slash one of railways' top costs.
Representatives from major railroad companies and related manufacturers met in private at a Houston hotel conference room last month to talk about how to push forward what could be the next great shift in train technology - a cataclysmic transition similar to the move decades ago from coal to diesel power.
Although rail companies have been coy in public about the potential of natural gas for locomotives, citing nascent technology and few real-world examples of gas-powered trains, they are exploring the option aggressively.
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