A group of educators, railroaders, researchers, scientists, engineers, and historians working together to preserve and make history.


Our Mission

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail is a Minnesota-based 501c(3) not-for-profit whose mission is:

  • Innovation - to support and advance sustainable modern steam, fuel, energy, and transportation technologies;
  • Preservation - to promote the safe and efficient operation and conservation of historic rail equipment; and
  • Education - to conduct informational activities to increase awareness of sustainable and historical technologies.

The Team is the right choice to pursue this important work which, in our judgement, is timely and relevant and holds the potential for a meaningful contribution to future boiler technolgy.
— Randy Rawson, American Boiler Manufacturers Association

Our Leadership

Board Officers

Davidson Ward | President

An alumnus of the University of Minnesota, Davidson Ward brings experience in marketing, business development, design, railroading and steam locomotive knowledge to CSR. Having worked extensively with faculty at the U of M to develop the partnership that created CSR, Ward continues to facilitate close interaction between all partners in the coalition to ensure efficient research and development. His railroad writing and photography have been featured in Trains Magazine and he is Co-Chairman of the Transportation Research Board AR 020 committee on Passenger Rail Equipment and Systems Integration and its subcommittee, Railroad Environmental Research Issues.


John Rhodes | VICE PRESIDENT & Treasurer

A railroad operations, simulation and equipment expert, John Rhodes has investigated the practical application of modern steam locomotives since his college days. He earned his Master's degree in Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics at George Mason University, having written a master's thesis on modern steam locomotive engineering. Rhodes has been published on the topic of modern steam in the Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal, the publication of this premier society for the study of railways and railway locomotion in the UK, founded 1909.


Rob Mangels |Director

Mangels specializes in providing new and unique ways to operate, design and build intermodal transportation systems and infrastructures, including the restoration and operation of historic rail and marine equipment.  His qualifications include administrative, technical, and business development related skills including accounting, engineering, marketing, and financial planning.  He also provides railroad technical training for locomotive engineers, conductors, and mechanical staff.  Mr. Mangels is currently working with various owners of many rail passenger cars in their efforts to upgrade and rehabilitate them, including some to Amtrak standards.  He also is contracted to perform Supervisor of Locomotive Engineers duties, provide airbrake, operating rules, safety, hazmat and train handling instruction for several short line railroads in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as consulting clients around the nation.


Shaun McMahon |Director

A leading world expert on Modern Steam Locomotive technology, Shaun McMahon brings a level of experience to the CSR team that cannot be matched. Experience he enjoys in both institutional and corporate steam research makes him perfect for leading engineering on the CSR team as well as serving as an educator at the University level. He has worked to modernize steam locomotives in The United Kingdom, South Africa and Argentina and currently serves as a lead researcher at the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI) of Argentina in Buenos Aires.


Board Members


Warren Scholl joined CSR following a 34 year career with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and its successor, the BNSF Railway, as a locomotive engineer trainer and rules supervisor. He retired from BNSF as Manager of Locomotive Engineer Training & Rules in 2011. Scholl joined CSR in 2011 to serve as a director and as the Coalition's Chief Safety Officer. His extensive knowledge of Class I railroad operating policies and work with mainline steam programs throughout his career afford him the experience to ensure the goals of CSR are met both safely and on time.



John Betak, Ph.D.

John Betak is the Managing Member of Collaborative Solutions LLC, a Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Risk Management and Insurance at The University of Texas at Austin and a Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University. John is a senior consultant with 40+ years of diversified, international experience in management, consulting, administration and research in corporations, non-profits and major North American universities.

Before establishing Collaborative Solutions in 1995, John was an AVP at Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) where he developed/managed the corporate industrial development, plant rationalization and line sales, short line marketing, non-hazardous solid waste business group, real estate portfolio and Geographic Information System. John was part of the team that developed the plan that led to the restructuring of Conrail and its return to profitability. Key elements of that plan led to the passage of NERSA and a fundamental shift in the rail industry's ability to restructure their operations. It also led to the development of the modern short line and regional railroad industry. John was a member of Conrail's Strategic Management Team and Operating Committee and he was one of the senior team members involved in implementing continuous quality improvement throughout the company. In addition, John was President of CRC Properties (the wholly-owned real estate management subsidiary of Consolidated Rail Corporation), where he was responsible for managing the real property assets portfolio comprised of buildings, real estate holdings, corridor assets for utility utilization, etc.


Don Fosnacht, PH.D.

Donald Fosnacht is the Associate Director of the University of Minnesota's Natural Resources Research Institute. He is a metallurgical engineer with a broad background that includes minerals extraction and minerals processing, extractive and physical metallurgy and analytical chemistry. He is also a seasoned technical manager with 20+ years experience in managing and directing research programs and technology development. He has been trained in project management, total quality management, continuous improvement processes along with various statistical tools and methodologies. He consults with various clients on business improvement specializing in yield and profitability enhancement and cost reduction. Fosnacht brings a great deal of hands on materials handling, biofuel processing and institutional experience to CSR. 


Rod Larkins 

Rod Larkins serves as the Senior Director of Science and Technology at AURI. His primary responsibilities includes directing science, research, and development areas of AURI that lead to innovative, marketable, and commercialized products and processes. These products and process help build and sustain local and nationally partnerships and foster collaboration for innovative shared outcomes.

Larkins background includes serving as the Special Projects Director for Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment at the University of Minnesota where he specialized in stakeholder outreach and engagement , partnership development and strategic planning. Prior to this Larkins had a long and successful career with 3M, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in research management—with a focus on establishing new businesses. During his career at 3M, Larkins was awarded two U.S. patents and earned numerous individual and team recognition awards. He finished his tenure as operations manager of government R&D contracts. In this role, he managed the opportunity development, proposal, administrative and compliance functions associated with 3M's participation in federal- and state-funded contracts. He helped establish and execute government-funded programs related to fuel cells, composite electrical conductors, batteries, solar films, renewable fuels, high-temperature super conductors, and energy assessment and savings, among other areas. As an external advisory board member, he worked closely with IREE and the U of M.



Wolfgang Fengler is a mechanical engineer with over 12 years of professional experience. He is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a BS in Design & Control and an MS in Heat & Mass Transfer. During his tenure at UCLA, he completed an internship at the campus cogeneration plant. Mr. Fengler began his career with Honeywell where he was responsible for the heat transfer and volumetric modeling of the NASA Advanced Inflatable Airlock project as well as the development of PEM fuel cell power systems. At General Electric, Mr. Fengler developed SOFC fuel cell system controls and balance-of-plant packaging. While at GE, he served on the site safety committee and earned his Six Sigma Green Belt with special training in Lean Manufacturing and Design for Manufacturing and Quality. His experience also includes production management at a surface engineering facility specializing in sputtering, cathodic arc deposition and ion implantation. Mr. Fengler has consulted on a number of other rail-related projects covering locomotive and passenger equipment and is familiar with FRA, AAR, APTA, EPA and Amtrak standards.

His interest in advanced steam locomotive technologies began in the mid-1980s. In addition to studying the work of Chapelon, Porta, and Wardale among others, he has investigated a number of these advances in scale form. This experimentation eventually led to correspondence with both David Wardale and Dante Porta. As a long-time member of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society he has assisted with restoration and operation of Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive # 3751 including performing Form 4 calculations. He currently also advises the restoration team on Santa Fe steam locomotive # 5000.



Matthew R. Bergmann, Esq.

Matthew R. Bergmann joined the CSR Board in 2018 and offers the organization substantial experience in non-profit management. Bergmann is an attorney in Topeka, Kansas, who specializes in the areas of administrative, business, public affairs and legislation, real estate, workers compensation and general practice matters. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 2005, at both the state and federal levels.  Mr. Bergmann was named a partner of the law firm Frieden, Unrein & Forbes, L.L.P., in April 2010.

Mr. Bergmann’s preparatory education took place at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas where he graduated, magna cum laude, in 2001. He received his juris doctorate from the Washburn University School of Law in 2005.  During his preparatory and legal education Mr. Bergmann studied internationally, participating in coursework at Orebro University in Orebro, Sweden, as well as King’s College and the London School of Economics in London, England. 

Mr. Bergmann was selected to the 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Star List for Kansas. In 2012, he was honored as one of top “20 Under 40” young professionals in Topeka. In 2008, Mr. Bergmann was named the Topeka Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer. Mr. Bergmann is an Eagle Scout receiving that honor from the Boy Scouts of America in 1997. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for TARC, and has also served on the Board of the Directors for the Topeka Bar Association. Mr. Bergmann is a member of the Topeka Bar Association, Kansas Bar Association, American Bar Association, NSBA Council of School Attorneys, the Topeka Active 20/30 Club and Topeka Lawyers Club. Mr. Bergmann enjoys spending time with his family, as he and his wife, Shannon, devote much of their time to their three young children.



Gary F. Knudsen

Gary Knudsen is an experienced railroader, preservationist, and non-profit advisor who joined the CSR Board in 2018. Mr. Knudsen began his career in the commercial aviation sector, working for more than 20 years in the field of aviation insurance underwriting. He is a certified airline transport pilot with more than 40 years of incident-free flying experience.

Following his airline career and seeking a change of pace, Mr. Knudsen hired on with the BNSF Railway in 2004 first as a conductor, then working his way up to the position of locomotive engineer. Working at the BNSF until his retirement in 2013, he garnered experience in freight operations in the California, Kansas, Nebraska and Springfield Divisions of the BNSF Railway, as well as the Oakland, Martinez, Niles, and Fresno Subdivisions of the Union Pacific Railroad. With safety first in mind, he worked for nine years with no FRA reportable injuries, incidents or accidents.   

Regarding preservation and steam locomotives, Mr. Knudsen offers thirty year's experience in the steam preservation industry. He began working in the preservation industry at the Black River & Western Railroad, where he volunteered during the restoration to operation of former Great Western Railway 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 60. In 1990, he began volunteering with the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation in Owosso, Michigan, where he served as both a board member and an active volunteer in the operations of Pere Marquette locomotive No. 1225. With the organization for nearly 30 years, Mr. Knudsen handled all manner of  planning, organizing, and operations tasks associated with the safe operation of the 1941-built 2-8-4 steam locomotive. 

Since retirement to Lawrence, Kansas, Mr. Knudsen has become involved with local preservation efforts, including having served on the board of the Lawrence, Kansas, Depot Redux project. That grass roots effort involved funding and logistics associated with the preservation of the former Santa Fe Railway passenger depot in Lawrence. 


Iiro Hirvensalo, M.Sc.

Iiro Hirvensalo, M.Sc. is an accomplished Finnish mechanical engineer and steam locomotive expert. His career has spanned all manner of heavy manufacturing, design, project management and conulting on behalf of a variety of Finnish companies.  Not only involved in mechanical engineering, his accomplishments include being a degreed Clarinetist from the Sibelius Academy and is actively involved in the operation/maintenance of mainline steam locomotives.

Hirvensalo's current work, post-retirement, focuses on the completion of a Ph.D. in Mechnical Engineering with a focus on modern steam locomotives from the Helsinki University of Technology. CSR is excited to welcome Hirvensalo who is helping to expand its knoweledge base and assist on technical matters concerning boiler systems in Europe.  He has maintained a life long passion for railroads and is a founding member of the Railway Historical Society of Finland, an organization with more than 1,000 members today. Hirvensalo is also heavily involved in the operation of Finnish mainline steam locomotives.



D. Shane Meador

Meador began his railroad carrier as a summer steam locomotive fireman at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in 1994 and qualified as a locomotive engineer in 1996 on steam and diesel locomotives. After being honorably discharged from the United States Navy, Meador began working for Norfolk Southern Railway as a Machinist in Chattanooga, while still continuing part time duties at TVRM coordinating the Southern 630's restoration.

Starting in 2010, Meador was offered the opportunity for a 3 year leave of absence from Norfolk Southern to manage the steam locomotive projects for use on Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program at TVRM. During that time, he successfully led the extensive restorations of Southern steam locomotives 630 and 4501 back to mainline service. By creating a safe, positive, and educational atmosphere, he was able to recruit and retain volunteers throughout the project which helped to reduce labor costs significantly. Shane has operated all 4 steam locomotives currently participating in the Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program on 6 Divisions traversing thousands of miles on mainline track.

In addition to his work with NS and TVRM, Meador also serves as President of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society

W. Hugh Odom, P.E. | Professional Engineer

Hugh Odom is a 1978 graduate of Clemson University with a BS in mechanical engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer in South Carolina. Hugh has worked as a project manager, mechanical engineer, environmental engineer, and nuclear engineer at various times in his career, and has over 30 years of professional experience. In addition to working for the Navy and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Hughspent 2 years with Norfolk Southern as a gang foreman in the motive power department. Hugh was briefly involved with excursions with NKP 765 and N&W 611 during this time.

In the 1980's, Hugh was an active member of the Charleston Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and was a founding member of the South Carolina Railway Museum. Since the late 1990's, Hugh has maintained an internet website on advanced steam locomotives called "the Ultimate Steam Page". Through this page, Hugh established contact with other advanced steam enthusiasts and professionals around the world. Hugh has assisted with projects such as the 5AT Advanced Steam Locomotive Project and the Cliffside 110 restoration project.


Alejandro Dante Porta

Born in April, 1963, Alejandro Dante Porta is the youngest son of modern steam mechanical engineer Livio Dante Porta. Alejandro grew up in the world of modern steam locomotive development, an engineering concept that was an integral part of the Porta family life and which led he and his family to travel the world. As well as having a solid technical understanding of the work his father undertook, Alejandro enjoys a sound philosophical understanding of the positive influence the application of modern steam can have on society in the XXI Century.

Alejandro lived, and was educated, in the United States for a period of time during the early 1980's.  For a number of years he has worked as a teacher on all levels of formal education (both in Spanish and English) in Buenos Aires and nowadays is a tutor of management skills (team building, coaching, communication skills, leadership, etc.) to the staff of various national and international industrial companies whilst still being based in Greater Buenos Aires region. In recent years Alejandro has worked closely with Shaun McMahon in conjunction with various Argentine based modern steam projects. As the years went by, Porta has made an important and much stronger approach in getting the proper connection and the strongest possible links between art-anthropology perspective and the daily lives of people, as related to his father's scientific and technological improvements.  Alejandro continues to promote the extension of his father's way of thinking on practical issues, thereby involving the final users of the said technology who, at the end of the day, are ordinary people.


Rohit T. Aggarwala, Ph.D.

Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala is Head of Urban Systems at Sidewalk Labs. Previously, he headed the sustainability practice at Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consulting firm that serves city governments. He is also an Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and co-chairs the Regional Plan Association’s Fourth Regional Plan for the New York metropolitan area.

Rit served as Special Advisor to the Chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2010-2013, guiding the organization’s strategic transformation into a global leader. During that period, he also developed the environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, which grew to a total of $145 million in grants under his management.

Rit served as Director of New York City’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability from 2006-2010, and led the creation and implementation of “PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York.” PlaNYC has been hailed as one of the world’s best urban sustainability plans, leading New York City to a 19% reduction in its carbon footprint since 2005. Prior to joining City Hall, he was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.

Rit holds a BA, MBA, and PhD from Columbia University, and an MA from Queen’s University in Ontario. He was born in New York City, where he now lives with wife and daughter.