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.

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