Amtrak to run beef powered trains -

American train service Amtrak has begun developing a rather novel approach to powering their famously ambling locomotives.  In a bid to encourage the use of renewable energy in their fleet, Amtrak has turned to the remains of cattle for a new kind of bio-fuel.

Having been given a grant of $274,000 from the state funded Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak will run a 12 month trial on the Oklahoma City to Fort Worth line to ascertain if the new ‘beef by-product’ fuel is a viable option for the future, according to fastcompany.com.

The fuel itself comprises 80 per cent diesel and 20 per cent bio-fuel and it is claimed that it could reduce both hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 10 per cent.  But burger lovers need not despair, Amtrak will not be utilising any prime cuts of beef for their engines, opting instead for the rather unappealingly named cow tallow – essentially rendered beef fat.  

The trial comes as part of a wider programme of environmentally friendly initiatives by Amtrak including moving from low sulphur fuel to an ultra low sulphur fuel, reducing idling on diesel trains and offering 50 per cent of ticket costs on bio-diesel trains, in order to reduce emissions by 7 per cent in 2011-12.

Although the scheme will make use of the remains of otherwise unwanted parts of dead animal, it is perhaps unsurprising PETA members are none too happy about the thought that the trains will be effectively run on the blood of murdered cows.  

“The answer to pollution is not to use the ground up remains of tortured animals for fuel.  Anything using animal remains is going to be both depleting of and polluting of our environment," said PETA’s Bruce Friedrich.

On the other hand it is not unimaginable that many train customers will in fact be pleased with the waft of fumes as their new beef burger flavoured trains pull into the station.