It looks like the answer to the original question is "Yes."
End of Rail System at Seal Beach to Save Money, Increase Environmental Benefits
Story Number: NNS100205-13
Release Date: 2/5/2010 1:16:00 PM
By Lori Bero, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs
SEAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- The Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Seal Beach locomotive took one of its last drives through the base Jan. 29 as a part of a decision which will reduce the facilities transportation costs, increase efficiency and provide several environmental benefits.
"Things come and things go," said Navy Munitions Command, CONUS West Division (NMCCWD), Det. Seal Beach Locomotive Operator and Materials Handler Raymond Chavez. "The rail system has been a part of history here at the weapons station. It is sad to see it leave, but the farewell has been a good one."
The decision to suspend locomotive operations was made in 2008, shifting the transportation of ordnance on the base from a rail and truck operation to an all-truck operation.
A study and year-long trial determined an all tractor/trailer operation would save $368,000 per year, and provide a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method of moving ordnance than the rail system with no negative effect on supporting the fleet.
Chavez is the last former locomotive engineer at Seal Beach, and after 15 years of operating the trains, he transitioned to other roles at the facility including forklift installer and safety coordinator for ordnance.
According to NMCCWD Ordnance Process Manager Scott Spohr, the Seal Beach train system was aging, and would not have been cost-effective to continue operating.
"The locomotives and railcars now being dismantled have exceeded two-times their service life and would have required over $12 million in recapitalization if the rail were to continue to operate," he said.
Additionally, income from recycling the rail line and locomotives has the potential to help offset the start-up costs from the switch, as well as provide a significant environmental impact, according to Spohr.
"By eliminating locomotives, the Seal Beach Installation has reduced air emissions, removed the environmental liability of the locomotive roundhouse, and removed creosote railroad ties near sensitive habitat," he said.
Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Air Quality Program Manager Paul Nguyen said without using the locomotives benefits the facility in several ways.
"The trucks improve our air emissions a great deal," he said. "The trucks are newer and emission is lower, while the locomotives use more fuel to just carry their own weight and warm up."
Once the all-truck system was put into place, additional benefits became apparent, said Rich Deniz, Det. Seal Beach ordnance operations head.
"Ammunition is placed into stock faster than previously accomplished with the train. Onloads are more efficient as well," he said.
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/sealbeach/