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HDR’s Will Kirby Explains Rail Facility Electrification

HDR’s Will Kirby Explains Rail Facility Electrification

Using clean electricity rather than fossil-fuel-based electricity to power buildings, electric vehicles and facility fleets can significantly reduce a rail facility’s carbon footprint. But it’s not as easy as flipping a switch.

Moving an intermodal or other facility to green energy involves infrastructure changes that require time and planning to properly implement. As market forces push freight and passenger railroads to decarbonize, the most practical and cost-effective solutions require careful planning well in advance of target carbon reduction dates. This is a new area for many rail operators and owners, who can take lessons from other industries about how to approach electrification.

In the latest in HDR’s Experts Talk series, Transportation Sustainability Leader Will Kirby, P.E., ENV SP, explains how to efficiently begin the complicated process of electrifying a rail facility. Drawing from his experience in the power sector, he explains the potential challenges and strategies to mitigate them. His overall message: Planning is key.

“Success begins with preparation,” he said. “Planning and modeling can inform clients on which technologies are most compatible with each facility’s schedules, site configurations and power demand. Modeling can help define an electrification roadmap for pilot projects, which helps further define and refine the course for overall electrification and decarbonization goals, initiatives and commitments.”

In his 15 years in the infrastructure industry, Kirby has helped many transportation and power clients successfully adopt practical sustainable solutions for electrification. Kirby is enthusiastic about all forms of sustainability, particularly renewable energy. He is a frequent presenter at sustainability and rail conferences, including the 2023 Federal Rail Administration Rail Decarbonization Workshop and the AREMA 2023 Annual Conference.

Read the whole interview on rail facility electrification.

HDR’s Experts Talk interview series shines a light on various aspects of transportation infrastructure design and delivery. Each subject matter expert offers unique expertise and insights about new and ongoing trends, emerging technologies and the human side of infrastructure.

About HDR
For over a century, HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Our expertise spans more than 12,000 employees in more than 200 locations around the world – and counting. Our engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services bring an impressive breadth of knowledge to every project. Our optimistic approach to finding innovative solutions defined our past and drives our future.