Gaps in Standards and Codes for Battery and Hydrogen Technology in Rail Applications

March 21, 2024

DB E.C.O. North America’s in-house Zero Emissions Team worked together to publish a paper through the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) on hydrogen and electrification in the rail industry.

In 2021, Canada’s rail sector emitted 7.8 megatons of CO2e and contributed significantly to the country’s Criteria Air Contaminants, e.g., NOx emissions. In the U.S., the rail sector also contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and criteria air pollutants affecting air quality. Canada follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emission standards in rail and many Canadian locomotives do not meet the highest emission standards. Plans are in place to notably reduce rail emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050, involving zero-emission (ZE) locomotives and rail electrification to support sustainable transport. The report identifies gaps in the existing standards landscape which could become areas of focus for development of specific standards to advance ZE propulsion technologies in the rail industry.

The project had two main parts to help advance ZE rail propulsion: (a) the development of a database of relevant codes, standards, and regulations, and (b) consulting with rail and ZE technology experts to identify and prioritize gaps in the literature. The database was populated through research, industry outreach and automated collection using natural language processing. In addition, feedback was collected from industry stakeholders through interviews and surveys to identify and rank missing elements in current standards, especially concerning hydrogen and battery-powered trains. This approach resulted in a detailed understanding of the existing literature, allowing the authors to highlight gaps in standards and contribute to a plan for future standard development to support the advancement of ZE rail technology.

ZE technologies are key to global decarbonization, with growing importance in the rail sector. However, North America’s rail industry faces challenges like extreme weather, long routes, and demanding duty cycles, which often require high power and large vehicle-based energy storage. As ZE rail vehicles start emerging, it is vital to develop standards focused on safety, design, emergency response, and operations to ensure their effective and safe integration into rail transportation, assisting with addressing some of the challenges the sector faces.

Meet the Authors

Andreas Hoffrichter, PhD

Principal, Head of Center for Net Zero Transformation in Rail and Transit

Heather Aitken, P.Eng

Senior Consultant, Center for Net Zero Transformation in Rail and Transit

Mohamed Hegazi, PhD

Senior Consultant, Management Consulting

2023 Company Event in New York City

October 23rd, 2023

DB E.C.O. North America hosted an in-person meeting in Jersey City and New York City with team building and educational events.


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DB E.C.O. North America poses for a group photo.

From October 17th – 20th, 2023, DB E.C.O. North America colleagues from across the United States and Canada gathered in Jersey City and New York City for a two-day conference. 

At this meeting, DB E.C.O. North America officially welcomed twenty-one new colleagues with a range of professional expertise. Their unique perspectives and professional experience will be invaluable as we continue to expand our company and service offerings. Following their introductions, consultants shared important project updates with the team. These presentations provided deep insights into our current and future clients, project goals, and strategies to enhance North American mobility

Christian Hicke, Vice President, presented on company goals for the future.
Select employees were rewarded for outstanding seminar presentations.

The following day, our team convened at the One World Trade Center for more team building and learning. The management team shared their collective vision for DB E.C.O. North America’s future, addressing company culture, career paths, and future goals.

We also recognized select employees for their outstanding participation and presentation skills showcased internally through DB E.C.O. North America’s consulting seminar series. These weekly seminars bring employees together to exchange knowledge about consulting techniques, problem-solving methods, and rail and transportation topics.  

Colleagues, local to the New York/New Jersey area, curated tours of some of the area’s most iconic landmarks like the NYC Highline, Roosevelt Island, and Liberty State Park. Together, we explored New York and New Jersey on public transportation while forming the personal connections that are key to collaborative success. 

Team members left with a renewed sense of purpose and unity. The relationships built at this in-person event highlighted our commitment to nurturing a strong company culture. By enhancing our collaborative spirit, we are better equipped to serve our clients and customers across the United States and Canada. 

Employees local to the area gave guided tours to their colleagues.

2023 Midwest Rail Conference explores conference theme “Optimizing Rail Investment”

August 18th, 2023

Andreas Hoffrichter, Head of the Center for Net Zero Transformation in Rail and Transit, shared the latest insights on decarbonization at the Midwest Rail Conference in Toledo, Ohio on August 15th.


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The third Midwest Rail Conference (MRC) took place as an in-person event with over 150 participants and 30 professional industry speakers from August 14-16, 2023, the University of Toledo. Under the chairmanship of Nick Little and Tom Burns, the MRC welcomed a series of decision-makers and experts, including Keynote Speaker, Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, Amit Bose, and diverse voices from regional public and private entities.

This year’s conference focused on “Optimizing Rail Investment”. The Midwest is home to an extensive rail network with Chicago as the national rail hub for freight and expansive rail passenger service. Class I railroads, short lines, and passenger routes spread across states like Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. With increasing demand for freight traffic and new federal funding to expand passenger services, issues such as congestion, safety, and investment dominate dialogue in the rail industry. The conference provided a platform for presentations and panel discussions on relevant topics around “Optimizing Rail Investment” such as “Passenger and Freight projects” to “planning efforts” to “decarbonization”.

Customized decarbonization solutions must be tailored to meet the specific needs of organizations

Andreas Hoffrichter and Paul Lewis, Principal, at the conference.

Andreas Hoffrichter, Head of the Center for Net Zero Transformation in Rail and Transit, shared the latest insights and strategies on decarbonization for the rail industry, alongside industry experts Marcin Taraszkiewicz, Rail and Transit Vehicle Technology Lead for HDR Consulting, Jamie Helmer, Director of Fuel Efficiency Norfolk Southern, and Melissa Shurland, Program Manager  Federal Railroad Administration. Moderated by Nick Little, Director of Railway Education Michigan State University, the panel highlighted the latest advancements in zero-emissions rail.

His presentation on decarbonization highlighted the complex landscape of zero-emissions power solutions available for the rail sector. Andreas stressed that decarbonization solutions must be tailored to meet the specific needs of organizations. He also discussed the use of batteries, hydrogen, and wayside electrification to reach zero emissions at point-of-use. Andreas stressed that based on existing limitations, there is no one-size-fits-all solution currently available. Full wayside electrification is the only solution that can provide the same operational performance as diesel with zero point-of-use emissions, while also offering the potential for very high-density service and/or high-speed rail. If electrification is not feasible, hydrogen fuel cell solutions are the closest in terms of operational range to diesel. Batteries can also be very effective in reducing and eliminating point-of-use emissions, though they require shorter operating ranges and specific schedules, such as traditional commuter operations.

Andreas also underscored other available technologies, such as renewable diesel, that offer substantial greenhouse gas reduction potential while utilizing existing rail equipment. Renewable diesel, for example, can be implemented quickly without any change in operations or service, and minimal impact to operating costs.

Net Zero Emission Center

At DB E.C.O. North America our net zero center guides rail and transit agencies and businesses across North America as they transition to net-zero mobility. Through our comprehensive support, clients achieve success in all major transition phases, including emissions modeling, techno-economic appraisals, fleet procurements, renewable electricity, and net-zero stations and facilities solutions. If you are interested in learning more about our work please contact Chris Beringer,

Federal Railroad Administration Conference “2023 Rail: Getting On Track For Decarbonization”

May 18, 2023

DB E.C.O. North America Presents Decarbonization Techniques at the Federal Railroad Administration Conference.


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From May 15th to 18th, 2023, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Offices of Railroad Safety and Research, Data, and Innovation hosted an international workshop on rail decarbonization in Denver, Colorado. This event brought together leading experts in the fields of rail transportation and clean energy, both from the United States and around the world, for face-to-face discussions on advancing technologies and strategies to reduce carbon emissions in the rail industry.

The workshop began with warm welcomes and introductory remarks delivered by Karl Alexy, the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Other plenary sessions featured speakers from various key entities, including the FRA’s Environmental Program Office, the US Department of Energy, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board.

Attendees had the opportunity to attend informative presentations covering various aspects of rail decarbonization, including cutting-edge energy storage solutions, innovative rail propulsion systems, the potential of hydrogen fuel, advancements in bioenergy technologies, and more. Discussions also focused on the safety of clean energy technologies, operating best practices for improving efficiency, as well as the reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) from freight and passenger rail systems in the US and globally. Two colleagues from DB E.C.O. North America and Deutsche Bahn presented during these sessions: Andreas Hoffrichter, Principal at DB E.C.O. North America, and Tobias Fischer, Head of the Technology TecLab at Deutsche Bahn.

Dr. Andreas Hoffrichter, Head of DB E.C.O. North America’s Center for Net Zero Transformation with more than 14 years of experience in zero emission rail, presented on a penal discussing the opportunities of transforming the rail transportation system to be more sustainable and carbon neutral. He discussed various motive power technologies to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutants. Andreas emphasized that the future will likely be a mix of varying technologies such as batteries, hydrogen, and electrification depending on each agencies’ rail services and operational needs. In addition, he highlighted the needed commitment among industry leaders, policymakers, and experts for ensuring a successful transition.

Dr. Tobias Fischer spoke about Deutsche Bahn’s ambitious commitment and plan to achieve its climate protection goals. Deutsche Bahn (DB) has been dedicated to becoming completely climate-neutral by 2040. Tobias described a series of stages designed to help DB reach its overall goal. For example, by 2030, DB plans to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50% compared to 2006. As part of this goal, renewable electricity in its traction current mix will reach 80% and by 2038, the entire power will be sourced from renewables. For its long-distance services DB already operates on 100% renewable traction power since 2018.

On the first day of the workshop, DB E.C.O. North America had the pleasure of hosting a successful evening reception. This event allowed participants to engage in open dialogues, form meaningful connections, and celebrate shared successes. DB E.C.O. North America believes in the importance of these gatherings allowing to strengthen their business relationships, while demonstrating our commitment to long-lasting partnerships and knowledge exchange.

“Operations & Network Design” Visit to Germany: DB E.C.O. North America Showcases Innovative Rail Service Approaches

April 30, 2023

DB E.C.O. North America’s trip to Germany focused on practical insights for improving US rail services.


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From April 24th – 28th, 2023, DB E.C.O. North America organized a visit to Germany to explore practical innovations that could enhance regional and intercity rail services in the United States.

Participants toured Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Berlin, and Leipzig to see the latest developments in transportation planning and operations. The trip included discussions, site visits, and tours, emphasizing the role of technology in optimizing routes and schedules.

The trip highlighted Germany’s integrated transportation planning, where different modes of transport connect to a comprehensive network. This approach is seen as a possible model for improving rail services in the United States. Participants also learned about operational excellence and technological advancements in Germany’s rail system, along with the importance of urban planning, sustainability, and transportation integration.

DB E.C.O. North America aimed to inspire and inform U.S. stakeholders about possibilities for enhancing rail services through innovation and efficiency. As rail services evolve, DB E.C.O. North America remains committed to promoting positive changes in the industry. It is also part of DB E.C.O. North America’s portfolio to organize tailored delegation visits and knowledge exchange opportunities for interested stakeholders. For more information, contact

Rail Innovation Day 2023: New Ideas and Advancements in the Rail Industry

March 3, 2023

DB E.C.O. North America hosted the “Rail Innovation Day” 2023 in Los Angeles to explore the future of rail for leaders in the industry.


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DB E.C.O. North America hosted a “Rail Innovation Day” 2023 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on March 2, 2023. This event brought together industry leaders, innovators, and experts to explore the transformative impact of new ideas and advancements on the future of the rail industry.

The “Rail Innovation Day” served as a platform for fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and showcasing new technologies to revolutionize the rail sector in the years ahead. Ulrich Leister, CEO of DB E.C.O. North America, welcomed guests from the United States, Canada, and Germany and expressed his appreciation for Stefan Schneider, Consul General/Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany. Consul Schneider stated that events like Rail Innovation Day are important because “We can share our experience in setting up such a great network of trains” with others and allow for critical knowledge exchange. Joachim Eichhorn, Transportation Attaché, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, D.C. also gave special remarks highlighting that events like the “Rail Innovation Day” “are not only about sharing ideas, [but] is about people and bringing people together.”

Attendees had the opportunity to engage in discussions, delve into the latest innovations in rail transportation, and gain insights into sustainable and efficient solutions that help drive the industry forward.

Key highlights from the event included:

The Regional Rail Revolution: Modernizing Commuter Rail: As the CARES Act funding expires and ridership recovery plateaus, commuter rail agencies face existential challenges. The “Regional Rail” model was explored as a potential solution as it has greater operational efficiency. Michael Cornfield, Principal at DB E.C.O. North America, discussed the transition to regional rail, implications on planning, and stakeholder communication strategies.

Operational Experience with Zero Emissions Rail Vehicles: In a panel discussion with Christoph Grimm, CEO, Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser, and Michael Cleveland, Director of Advanced Energy, Progress Rail, A Caterpillar Company, moderated by Chris Beringer, Manager, DB E.C.O. North America, discussed the opportunities and challenges of new zero emissions vehicles.

The (Near) Future of Rolling Stock Maintenance: Stefan Geisperger, Managing Director for International Markets and Consulting at DB Engineering & Consulting, discussed critical considerations for upgrading maintenance facilities, international trends in rolling stock maintenance, and advances in competence management.

Navigating High Capital Costs in Rail Projects: Paul Lewis, Principal at DB E.C.O. North America, addressed the disparities in rail project costs between the United States and Europe. Solutions for improved project governance, processes, and standards were proposed.

Finally, Ulrich Leister, CEO, expressed his enthusiasm for the event and DB E.C.O North America‘s commitment to driving innovation and sustainability in the rail sector “The strong push for more and better public transportation here in America is really exciting. Events like today are extremely important to start an industry conversation about new ideas, the most important innovations, and how to share knowledge across the Atlantic.” Rail Innovation Day represents a significant stride toward achieving these goals. As a company dedicated to pioneering solutions for a greener and more efficient future, DB E.C.O. North America eagerly anticipates continued collaborations with industry stakeholders and similar events to continue shaping the landscape of the rail industry.

Rail Innovation Day

InnoTrans 2022: A Unique Opportunity to Explore the Future of Mobility

October 1, 2022

DB E.C.O. North America organized a curated InnoTrans tour for US and Canadian railroad executives and decision-makers.


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From September 20th to 23rd, 2022, DB E.C.O. North America organized a curated tour InnoTrans to Berlin, Germany, for 25 US and Canadian railroad executives and decision-makers. InnoTrans is the world’s leading trade fair for transport technology and takes place every two years in Berlin. This highly anticipated event brought together 2,834 global exhibitors from 56 countries and over 137,00 international visitors from 131 countries to experience the latest trends and technologies in mobility.

DB E.C.O. North America’s curated InnoTrans tour and respective meetings focused on “Fleet Management” and offered insights into optimizing rolling stock, maintenance, and procurement strategies for passenger rail, and around pathways to zero emission trains, an area of growing importance for the transportation sector. Participants attended high-profile panel discussions and expert talks on current and future-focused mobility topics and were provided with a platform to exchange ideas and lessons learned.

Key highlights from the event included:

  • Excursion to Berlin Central Station: One of Europe’s largest train stations
  • Guided City Tour of Berlin: Discovering Berlin’s History while using the Public Transit System
  • Guided tour of the ICE maintenance facility in Berlin Rummelsburg: 1 out of approximately 100 Deutsche Bahn maintenance facilities
  • Meeting at the Embassy of the United States of America in Berlin: An exchange between the US and German railway industries
  • Guided tour of SBCTA’s Stadler Flirt H2: The first hydrogen-powered passenger train in the US
  • Guided tour of the IdeasTrain: Deutsche Bahn’s concept for mass transit of the future
  • Meeting with Deutsche Bahn Procurement Rolling Stock: First-hand experience in the new ICE-L (Talgo)
  • Guided tour of Mireo Plus H (Siemens) vehicle: Hydrogen train with Deutsche Bahn charging station

This Curated InnoTrans 2022 provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the future of mobility and gain a competitive edge in the railway industry. With the ever-changing landscape of mobility, attending events like InnoTrans will be essential to stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies.

DB E.C.O. North America will organize a curated InnoTrans tour in 2024 to Berlin. If you are interested in attending or learning more, please contact

DB E.C.O. North America Curated InnoTrans Tour

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