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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Analysis of PM and NOx Train Emissions in the Alameda Corridor, CA.


The Alameda corridor provides a crucial rail link for moving freight in and out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, also known as the San Pedro Bay Ports (SPBP). While the benefits of this trade are enjoyed by the whole nation, the associated air pollution costs are born mostly by the people who live in the vicinity of the Alameda corridor and the two freeways (the I-710 and the I-110) that serve the Ports. Although they are more energy efficient than trucks, trains contribute heavily to regional air pollution; in addition, rail traffic in the South Coast Air Basin is projected to almost double in the next twenty years. This paper presents an analysis of the emissions and the dispersion of PM and NOx emitted by train operations in and around the Alameda corridor. We find spatial and temporal variations in the dispersion of these pollutants, which justifies our approach. Moreover, the railyards in our study area are responsible for the bulk of PM and NOx emissions (compared to line haul operations). While PM emissions from train operations contribute only a fraction of the recommended maximum concentration, NOx emissions go over recommended guidelines in different areas. The affected population is mostly Latino or African American. Our approach is also useful for better understanding trade-offs between truck and rail freight transport.

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