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NZCS chat recap: Railroads on track for zero-emission future

Wabtec’s Eric Gebhardt discusses batteries’ and hydrogen cells’ role in company’s Freight 2030 initiative

Wabtec’s Eric Gebhardt discussed the move away from diesel fuel in the rail sector.

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ Net-Zero Carbon Summit.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Railroads tracking a net-zero future

DETAILS: Because of the inherent efficiencies of shipping by rail, railroads have built-in advantages when it comes to cutting emissions. In this fireside chat, Wabtec Chief Technology Officer Eric Gebhardt discusses how the rail sector is powering up that advantage using battery-electric locomotives, hydrogen fuel cells and public-sector partnerships.

SPEAKER: Eric Gebhardt, chief technology officer, Wabtec

BIO: A respected technologist with more than 30 years of experience, Gebhardt is responsible for Wabtec’s global technology and investment strategy, new product development, and global engineering organization. He is the former managing director of KCK-US, an investment firm focused on the energy, life science and industrial sectors. Gebhardt spent nearly 30 years with General Electric in a variety of global engineering and leadership roles, where he was responsible for driving the strategic direction for product and portfolio development.


“Because of the railroads’ ability to move freight quickly and economically, shifting traffic to rail and decarbonizing it at the same time provides a great opportunity to decarbonize the entire freight system.”

“The challenge around the hydrogen ecosystem is making it cost-effective. You have to bring the cost down to where it’s equivalent to diesel power, make sure there’s availability, and the charging infrastructure has to come along as part of it.”

“We think [President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan] is a step in the right direction. [Railroads can use this for public-private partnerships — pull in national laboratories, pull in academia and other industrial companies to build this out.”

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.