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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Operating Under Vegetable Power Brings The Grand Canyon Railroad Accolades

Source: Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway has been recognized by the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association (AzHLA) with a 2009 Special Achievement Award. The Railway and Xanterra South Rim developed a program to collect used vegetable oil from Grand Canyon restaurants for use in the train’s steam locomotive.

According to AzHLA, “The ‘Stars of the Industry’ awards program was created more than 40 years ago to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the lodging industry. While the categories have evolved over the years, the concept is still the same - to honor lodging employees and properties that best symbolize the quality service of the industry.” The Special Achievement Award recognizes entities that meet guest expectations while minimizing environmental impacts.

In previous years the Grand Canyon Railway operated steam locomotives from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the Railway discontinued this schedule after 2008, opting to maintain the steam locomotives and use them for special occasions. In 2009 the steam locomotive #4960 – powered by vegetable oil – operated in September to celebrate the Railway’s 20th anniversary since it began its second incarnation in 1989. The Grand Canyon Railway operated for nearly 70 years beginning in 1901.

“We made the decision to discontinue regular usage of our steam locomotives for environmental reasons,” said Gordon Taylor, general manager of the Grand Canyon Railway. “We have continued to maintain and conserve the engines for future use. In keeping with our environmental mission, we sought ways to operate them in a more eco-friendly manner, and that’s where our sister operation Xanterra South Rim entered the picture by collecting and processing the used vegetable oil from its restaurants.”

Specific results of the decision to discontinue steam locomotives throughout the summer included:

- Saving approximately 900 gallons per day or 162,000 gallons fuel per year of diesel fuel
- Saving approximately 1,200 gallons of water per day – 216,000 gallons per year
- Reducing approximately 2,700 tons of carbon dioxide (chief greenhouse gas) emissions, 2.6 tons of nitrogen oxides and 1.8 tons of sulfur oxides
- Reducing the pollution associated with maintenance and operation of the steam train

The Grand Canyon Railway operates daily train service between Williams, Ariz., and the Grand Canyon. The Railway offers four distinct classes of service, as well as money-saving packages featuring the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams. Overnight stays at the Grand Canyon and optional tours also can be included in the packages. Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, visit or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).

The Grand Canyon Railway is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts

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