Wabtec Seeks Federal Funding for ‘Green’ Motive Power

Pittsburgh-based Wabtec wants Congress to help it fund development of zero-emission locomotives.

Wabtec said it has one such engine, the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive, now undergoing testing on BNSF in California.

Wabtec CEO Rafael Santana said the federal funding of the Freight Rail Innovation Institute will help it develop zero-emissions locomotive technology to replace the diesel by 2030.

“Wabtec’s goal is to develop the next generation of zero-emission locomotives. Wabtec has a clear path to power new locomotives – and repower existing locomotives – with batteries, hydrogen internal combustion engines, and hydrogen fuel cells,” Santana told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Santana said the institute is partnering with short line holding company Genesee & Wyoming, and Carnegie Mellon University to develop a new generation of motive power.

Santana said the institute will conduct research, demonstration, and commercialization of technology that can eliminate railroads’ use of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

In his testimony, Santana said new network logistics technology would enable railroads to shift highway traffic to rail.

The changes that Santana described include technology to enable railroads to move block signal systems and implement more sophisticated network management software that would increase rail line capacity by 50 percent.

“Each diesel-powered locomotive converted to alternative energy sources can save up to 3,000 tons of [carbon dioxide] per year,” Santana said.

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