BNSF Yard Truck Project

Electrifying Cargo-Handling Equipment in Tukwila

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is partnering with BNSF Railway to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gasses by replacing diesel-fueled yard trucks with all-electric yard trucks at BNSF’s South Seattle Intermodal Yard.  Once the new electric trucks are operating, the older diesel-fueled yard trucks will be scrapped. 

Hostler 18

The yard trucks being replaced are an essential component of our region’s goods movement operations, transferring cargo from the Port of Seattle onto BNSF rail lines. This project will demonstrate the feasibility of electric yard trucks in our region and will promote the adoption of zero-emission technologies for freight operations.

This project will also directly improve air quality in an area that has a complex mix of air pollution sources, including major highways and truck traffic, nearby registered industrial sources, and rail & aircraft emissions.  

The new electric yard trucks will be partially funded by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($1 million) and the Washington State Department of Ecology ($100,000). Grant funds cover a maximum of 30-35% of the vehicle replacement costs. 

BNSF is also working with Seattle City Light to install charging infrastructure for the electric yard trucks. Seattle City Light has contributed financially using funding from the Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan for additional electrical system upgrades required for electrification of these yard trucks. This project supports the utility’s priorities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles and to improve air quality in underserved and underrepresented communities in our region.

Project Location:

    BNSF South Seattle Intermodal
   12400 51st Pl S, Tukwila, WA 98178

The intermodal yard is located adjacent to the Duwamish River and the Tukwila-Allentown neighborhood. This project is in the Agency’s Duwamish Valley Focus Community

Project Timeline:

December 2021 - June 2023

This timeline may change as the project progresses. 

How much pollution will this project prevent? 

Over the lifetime of the project, we estimate replacing the diesel yard trucks with all-electric yard trucks will reduce 25.2 tons of NOx, 6.2 tons of PM2.5, and 2,498 tons of CO2. This is the equivalent of 538 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.*

See table below for more details. 

Year 1 reductions (tons/year)
Annual average reductions (tons/year)
Lifetime reductions (tons/5 years),497.8

Emission reductions were calculated using the EPA’s Diesel Emission Quantifier.  

*Based on the EPA’s Greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator

What are yard trucks? 

Yard trucks (also called goats, hostlers, terminal tractors, and other names) are an essential cargo-handling equipment used to move cargo trailers and containers short distances. BNSF’s yard trucks are generally off-road vehicles used to move cargo containers around the intermodal rail yard. Intermodal rail yards are areas where cargo is transferred between trucks and trains. The South Seattle Intermodal Train Yard operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why electrify? 

Electric yard trucks are a new technology which is rapidly gaining in popularity. The yard truck’s duty cycle makes it an ideal candidate to use electric power. Yard trucks typically operate at low speeds at a start-stop work pace. Electric yard trucks don’t idle and have plenty of torque to carry heavy loads. And since they do not need to travel long distances, electric yard trucks can be recharged during opportune times such as shift changes or driver break periods. 

Drivers who have experience with electric yard trucks generally prefer electric over diesel-fueled yard trucks. Electric yard trucks run smoother and are quieter than diesel-fueled trucks. The technology also safely and effectively meets operational needs while causing significant emission reductions.

This project is aligned with the Agency’s strategic plan objectives to ‘reduce transportation emissions, especially diesel particulate, in highly impacted locations’ and to ‘reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from transportation.’ 

BNSF is committed to reducing emissions in the communities they serve. BNSF’s partnership with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Seattle City Light to deploy a fleet of battery electric yard trucks at the Sound Seattle Intermodal Facility is a great step towards achieving emission reduction goals. 


Contact: Kelly O’Callahan (, 209-689-4054)