New Report Outlines Job Impacts of “Green Locomotives” at Plant in Erie, PA


For Immediate Release
Date: April 25, 2023
Contact: Kirstin Snow,


PA Can Have Cleaner, Safer Rail System and Thousands More Manufacturing Jobs

Erie, PA—In the context of East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment that vividly illustrated the need to upgrade rail across the United States, the Keystone Research Center, together with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), and Senator Bob Casey’s office, released the exciting findings of a new research report on the job-creation potential of green locomotive production in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Written by the premier U.S. modeler of the jobs and economic impacts of investments that reduce carbon emissions, the PERI institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the study calculates the employment impacts of expanding “green locomotive” manufacturing at the Lawrence Park plant of Wabtec (Westinghouse Air Brake Technology) in three geographies: at the Wabtec plant, in the rest of Erie County, and in the United States.

Green locomotive production is expected to increase in the United States because there are about 26,000 old, polluting locomotives in the United States that need to be replaced or remanufactured. Upgrading and expanding U.S. rail networks could further increase further demand for green locomotives.

The new report estimates the employment impact of producing 500 to 1,000 locomotives at Lawrence Park and models how that impact varies based on the locomotives being (a) clean (“tier 4”) diesel-electric locomotives or (b) battery-electric locomotives with the batteries manufactured onsite (creating more jobs) or sourced outside the plant.

The report finds that producing 1,000 green locomotives per year at the plant would create: 3,400 to 5,100 jobs at the Lawrence Park facility; a similar number (3,060 to 5,100) in Erie County outside of Lawrence Park; and 9,860 to 14,960 in the U.S. economy as a whole.

About 800 people currently produce locomotives at the plant. These 800 jobs would become more secure with a jump in production and between 2,600 and 4,300 new jobs would be created at the facility with production of 1,000 green locomotives annually.

Keystone Research Center executive director and ReImagine Appalachia co-director Stephen Herzenberg said, “America needs to upgrade existing rail, lay new rail lines in Appalachia and across the country, and manufacture green locomotives in our state and region. This study shows that scaling up green locomotive production in Erie to feed a sustainable U.S. rail system could be a game-changer for economic opportunity in Northwest PA.”

During the press conference, Carl Rosen, general president, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) said, “All across the country there are rail yard workers and rail yard communities who are suffering the adverse health effects of old, dirty diesel locomotives. We are bringing together a national coalition of labor, community, and environmental groups to demand that the railroads upgrade their locomotives and to demand that the government [does] its job to make sure the railroads are not making people sick. Green locomotives will clean up pollution, address the climate crisis, and bring thousands of good, union jobs to Western Pennsylvania.”

Scott Slawson, president, UE Local 506 added, “The members of UE Local 506 are the most skilled locomotive-building workforce in America, and our facility in Erie has significant underutilized capacity. Our workforce and our facility are ready to build the green locomotives that our country needs, and this study shows that building those locomotives in Erie will ensure a bright future for our region. We hope that our employer, Wabtec, will work with us to build green locomotives in Erie and make that future a reality.”

For a video of the press conference, click here.