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Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company Wabtec Unveils First Battery-Electric Train

Julia Zenkevich
90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh-based freight train manufacturer Wabtec unveiled its first battery-electric locomotive on Friday. The company said it could help significantly reduce carbon emissions in the future.

When paired with traditional diesel engines, the battery-powered train reduced fuel consumption by more than 11% and led to an 11% reduction in carbon emissions.

“Which is the equivalent of removing over 6,200 gallons of diesel fuel and slashing nearly 70 tons of carbon emissions,” said Rafael Santana, the president and CEO of Wabtec.

The battery-electric train is a step towards creating a zero-emission, hydrogen-hybrid locomotive, which Wabtec estimates could cut emissions by 30%. Though the company is still working on that technology, Wabtec chief technology officer Eric Gebhardt said the company wants to make it cleaner and safer to transport goods by rail.

“We could cut 120 million tons of CO2 per year—and for perspective that’s about 2% of total emissions in the United States,” he said.

The U.S. transportation sector is at a “critical inflection point,” said Santana.

Reducing emissions from freight and other types of transportation could be key in combating climate change.

A proposal introduced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey would offer $600 million in grants to companies and universities like Wabtec and Carnegie Mellon University to decarbonize rail transportation.

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Democrat said the project is just one of many needed to curb the effects of climate change.

“If you haven’t taken action by a certain date, the impact of climate change becomes substantially irreversible. That’s what we have to be most concerned about,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has introduced a similar bill in the House.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at