Orange EV's T-Series pure-electric terminal tractor.

Green Fleet of the Month: It’s all in the numbers

June 5, 2017
Rail Management Services is expanding its use of electric yard trucks

“Green initiatives are important and in our case the numbers make sense,” said Ed Morgenthaler, vice president of maintenance, safety, legal and operations for Rail Management Services (RMS), an intermodal lift-on/lift-off contractor with a fleet of over 750 yard jockeys. “We’re starting to supplement diesel units with electric trucks because in the long run, they will have a lower total cost of ownership while cutting fuel consumption and eliminating emissions at rail yards, which are often located in designated non-attainment areas.”

RMS, one of the largest rail intermodal yard operators in the U.S., is a supplier of intermodal ramp services at more than 40 facilities used by four Class 1 railroads. The subsidiary of Carrix, one of the world’s largest privately held rail yard and marine terminal operators, handles over 7.4 million lifts per year.

After purchasing its first Orange EV T-Series electric terminal truck in July 2016 for use at its rail yard in Chicago, Morgenthaler related that RMS has order­ed nine additional trucks from the manufacturer. Five of the trucks will be deployed at the Chicago site, and four will be utilized at intermodal rail facilities in the Buffalo, NY, area.

Joining a fleet that includes 60 Tyco, 80 Autocar, and about 600 Ottawa yard hostlers at RMS, the Orange EV electric trucks are initially playing a supplemental role. “They need 12 hours to fully charge using a standard power supply,” Morgenthaler explained. “Since most of our operations are 24/7, we can’t use them all the time, but there are a number of reasons that they still make economic sense.

“Despite costing about twice that for a diesel terminal truck, incentive and rebate programs can bring the initial price down to the same range,” Morgenthaler continued. “If you factor in fuel savings and lower maintenance expenses—even with the cost of repowering the electric trucks after five years of service—based on our utilization, we can realize savings of over $150,000 per vehicle in 10 years.”

Another component of the electric truck equation at RMS is the investment required in charging stations. As part of its Orange EV electric truck purchase, the manufacturer is installing a fast-charge station at the Chicago facility and will use it to gather data on vehicles.

“The cost of a fast-charge station is about $50,000, but it can recharge a fully drained battery in about two hours,” Morgenthaler explained. “Being able to recharge electric yard trucks during work breaks and lunch periods could lead to productivity improvements that would offset the cost of that investment.”

Orange EV T-Series Class 8 terminal trucks with all-electric powertrains are offered in a range of configurations. The nine units being added at RMS are Extended Duty (160 kWh) trucks in three versions, including new on-road models that are DOT compliant, remanufactured off-road models with standard onboard charging, and repowered diesel off-road units with fast charging capability.

The Orange EV electric terminal trucks at RMS have also demonstrated that they can keep pace with diesel truck performance. “Our Chicago rail yard is one of our largest and toughest sites,” Morgenthaler stated. “The facility has been active for decades, making the terrain harsh on hostlers. The winters there and at our New York sites also make those difficult environments, but after the Chicago pilot, we feel confident that the trucks will be very reliable.”

Another environmentally friendly initiative in place for the RMS fleet includes an ongoing evaluation of CNG-powered terminal trucks. 

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