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InnoTrans 2016 – Railways and rubber ducks

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InnoTrans is the largest railway industry exhibition in the world. That’s not just organiser’s hyperbole, the numbers speak for themselves. Held every other year in Berlin during the third week in September, the 2016 show was the eleventh in the series. 2,955 exhibitors took part, representing some 60 countries. 149 products made their world debut at the show and, as well as the myriad of stands spread around 41 exhibition halls, there were 127 rail vehicles parked on 3.5km of track making up the outdoor display.

All of this attracted 145,000 trade visitors as well as 20 delegations from countries as diverse as India, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the USA, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

No doubt many Rail Engineer readers visited the show for themselves, but even they will not have been able to see everything. Nor did the Rail Media team, which numbered nine over the four days of the show. But here is an attempt to catch the flavour of InnoTrans for those who stayed at home.

Focus on the future

There are several sides to InnoTrans. The indoor stands and the outdoor displays are the most obvious, but there are also the presentations, press conferences and addresses in which numbers get discussed and plans for the future revealed.

Talk of the digital railway was never very far away. In his opening address, Dr Ben Möbius (above), managing director of the German Railway Industry Association (VDB), said: “Digitisation means innovation everywhere in the rail industry, by way of example, quieter level crossings or improving the efficiency of goods logistics, condition-based and predictive maintenance – all can be enabled by digitisation.

“The increase in digitisation in the rail industry is an opportunity because it enables innovation.

“Then there is automated driving, with concerns over decreasing workforces and salaries, but semi-automation will still require operatives.

“Big cities of the world are suffering from traffic gridlock. Here the rail industry can help by offering automated local transport systems.”

Philippe Citroën, managing director of UNIFE (the Association of the European Rail Industry), was one of those gazing into the short-term future as he presented the findings of the ‘World Rail Market Study – forecast 2016- 2021’.

Providing overview and insight on the railway market based on a survey conducted in the 60 largest rail markets worldwide, the publication covers over 95% of all passenger and tonne kilometres. He told interested observers: “The objectives of the study are twofold – to serve as a strategic planning tool for UNIFE members and as a message to investors and the financial community.”

The study provides an analysis of the current market situation and gives an outlook up to 2021. The content is subdivided across the five product segments of rolling stock, infrastructure, rail control, services and integrated projects, covering virtually the entire global market.

Between 2013 and 2015, the current average annual total market volume of the rail supply market amounted to around 159 billion euros per annum, of which 61.4bn was for services, 14bn for rail control, 29.7bn for infrastructure, 0.6bn for turnkey management; and 53.7bn for rolling stock.

There are around 5.4 billion freight cars currently in operation worldwide, while global market accessibility for European rail suppliers has fallen from 68 to 63 per cent. “If nothing is done at the political level to create a level playing field, we will certainly lose market share,” warned Mr Citroën.

Key features in this sixth edition of the study are digitisation – where it analyses the impacts of intermodal connectivity and resulting implications and opportunities for the rail supply industry – and the European Union’s (EU) Fourth Railway Package, which seeks to bring about greater liberalisation and harmonisation to European rail traffic and further boost its competitiveness against other transport modes.

Digitisation also featured in an EU Memorandum of Understanding on ERTMS which was announced during InnoTrans.

This includes the requirement for ETCS to be standardised on the 2016 Baseline 3 version, with no deviation from this specification for national preferences. This should prevent nation states ‘tinkering’ with the ETCS/ERTMS specification to suit themselves, which causes problems with interoperability.

In addition, the Memorandum calls for the development of satellite navigation to replace track mounted balises, ATO as an overlay to the ETCS package (already under trial on Thameslink), a commitment towards the design and adoption of ETCS Level 3, and commitment to replacing GSM-R with a more modern radio technology – primarily to give much greater data capacity.

Alstom – powered by hydrogen

The major integrated manufacturers were all at InnoTrans, all showing something new and promising more to come.

Alstom revealed its new iLint train, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Two have been built, and should be in passenger service in northern Germany by the turn of the year.

Henri Poupart-Lafarge, president of Alstom, commented: “This fuel cell platform is about investment in optimisation rather than in changing infrastructure. With standards on emissions set to become ever more stringent in the coming years, rail networks will face a significant investment challenge. So we, as a rolling stock provider, thought about this and came up with the idea for a zero-emission train that costs less than electrification.


“The Coradia iLint is a nice story also because, as well as developing this train at different Alstom sites and involving different sectors within the group, partners in Germany were involved too.”

Both the fuel cells and the hydrogen storage tanks are mounted on the roof, next to the existing HVAC (heating, ventilation and air- conditioning) installation. Apart from those extra ‘lumps’, and the transformer packs under the floor, “the iLint looks the same as a regular train from the outside, feels the same on the inside,” to quote Poupart-Lafarge.

Rail Engineer writer Malcolm Dobell had an in- depth look at the new train. While it has a very simple set of objectives – to be emission free at point of use and to have the same performance and range as the diesel unit on which it is based – there were, as ever, some complex engineering, systems and logistics issues to resolve.

Malcolm took the opportunity of being in Germany to visit both the Alstom stand and the company’s largest production facility in Salzgitter for a report in next month’s issue. “Whilst many will think of Alstom as a rolling stock company,” Malcolm commented afterwards, “it was instructive to discover that less than 50 per cent of their current business is in rolling stock. It was truly fascinating to be able to talk to enthusiastic and knowledgeable engineers about turnkey systems, high speed, electrification hardware, infrastructure fit out, resilient sleepers, ETCS, Traffic Management, Condition Monitoring and recycling – all on the same stand.”

Although a very positive development, not everything is easy for rolling stock manufacturers. This unveiling in Berlin deflected attention away from other Alstom news in France. On 13 September, the company announced that it intends to close one of its manufacturing plants in France, its Belfort train- building plant. The reasons given were that there have been no locomotives on Alstom’s order books for over a decade, plus production of TGV (high-speed train) motors is uncertain beyond 2018.

If the closure does take place, the majority of the 480-strong workforce will be transferred to Alstom’s Reichshoffen site in Bas-Rhin, Germany, by 2018.

Bombardier’s virtual reality

Bombardier used virtual reality technology to showcase how its broad portfolio of solutions addresses the mobility challenges faced
by cities and societies around the globe. A fascinating VR ‘movie’ showed off how railway and light rail networks will contribute to the cities of the future, while simpler 3D displays gave walk-throughs of actual trains and stations.

Laurent Troger, Bombardier Transportation president, said, “Today, countries and governments all across the globe are confronted with similar challenges: urbanisation, pollution, digitalisation, and population growth, particularly in emerging markets. Rail is already playing a key role in solving these issues but it can do more. At Bombardier Transportation, building the future of mobility together with our customers is at the heart of everything we do.”


Two new trains emphasised Troger’s vision of the future. The high-capacity Movia Maxx metro platform has been designed to deliver value for money in terms of passenger capacity, energy consumption, reliability and availability while being flexible enough to be tailored to a particular customer’s needs.

Talent 3 is Bombardier’s new regional train. Equipped with ETCS, it is able to operate across borders on the various European rail power systems. It is also available with a Primove lithium-ion battery system, technology which was showcased in the UK when the IPEMU ran on the Abellio Greater Anglia network last year.

Bombardier’s ability to improve a fleet’s reliability and optimise its lifecycle costs is now enhanced by Optiflo, a full range of aftermarket services including help desk, technical support, obsolescence management and asset and configuration management. Optiflo launches Bombardier’s Infrastructure Management service, which uses hardware and software to capture and analyse diagnostic and performance data from signalling systems and products.

Siemens selection

Siemens’ outdoor display showed off two very different trains. As part of the turnkey contract awarded to the BACS (Bechtel/Almanbani/ Consolidated Contractors Company/Siemens) consortium in 2013, Siemens is to deliver a total of 74 trainsets for Riyadh’s driverless CBTC system – 45 four-car units for Line 1 and 29 two-car trains for Line 2. “Given the challenging environment in Saudi Arabia, we tested a lot of the equipment and components to withstand harsh conditions,” Siemens told Rail Engineer.

There are 18 display screens around the doors serving each car, making for an impressive total of 72 for a four-car unit – surely a record for a metro platform! This uniqueness is also reflected in the interior design – chromatic finishes and high-quality seat upholstery deliver a touch of class. Talking of which, there will be three classes of travel – First Class, a Women’s section, and Silver Class. “For the client it was very important to have a one-of-its-kind train/platform/metro, unlike any other in service today,” said Siemens. Passenger operation is to start at the end of 2018.

Also, the Velaro Turkey high-speed train for operator TCDD was presented in the outdoor display area – interior highlights are modular seating and in-seat digital screens.

Digitisation was in the spotlight on Siemens’ sprawling indoor stand, with one area dedicated to showcasing its digital services centre – the company’s portfolio of smart services for monitoring, data analysis, prediction, and operational support. Here, one technology to watch is hands-free ticketing, which is designed to make travel easier, more convenient and comfortable, and so boost ridership of public transport and drive-up combined mobility behaviour. This platform will go live for the first time in Switzerland in early January 2017.

Siemens was chosen to be the business partner for the development, introduction and operation of a sales platform for the Schweizerische Südostbahn AG (Swiss South-Eastern Railway), which is scheduled to come into operation at the end of 2016. The system offers the BiBo (‘Be-in/Be-out’) range of functions via a smartphone app and a module that calculates the cheapest fare after the journey has been completed. This includes easy access to intermodal mobility services, including route guidance as well as static and dynamic timetables.


Hitachi pair

The Hitachi stand featured not one company, but two. Hitachi Rail, which now includes the former AnsaldoBreda factories and product range, was joined by Ansaldo STS – the signalling company in which Hitachi now holds a controlling interest.

Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail group chief executive officer, said: “Since establishing Hitachi Rail Italy and taking a majority stake in Ansaldo STS, we now present ourselves to the rail industry under one roof for the first time, combining over 150 years of experience in rail solutions.”

As an example of the broad portfolio of rolling stock now available, a model of the new Caravaggio, designed for regional transport in Italy, was on show for the first time worldwide. This new train won the tender by Trenitalia for the provision of up to 300 double deck high capacity trains for a value of €2.6 billion.

For the UK market, Hitachi is progressing with the traffic management system for Thameslink’s central core but will require more proactive interchange of information and requirements from Network Rail in order to refine both the design and application logistics. Maximum value will only be obtained when the system is able to look at trains running across the complete Thameslink route, Bedford/Cambridge to Brighton.

With the deadline for bids for the New Tube for London just three days after the close of InnoTrans, there was interest in the Hitachi/Bombardier joint venture that will be entering a single bid. That bid was prepared by a combined team, with employees of both companies involved that represent the UK’s two manufacturers and employ some 4,000 people in Derby and Newton Aycliffe.

Combining resources had many benefits. “There was no need to prequalify again,” commented a Bombardier spokesman, “as both companies had already prequalified individually.”

“The bid combined our strengths,” his colleague from Hitachi added. “Bombardier has recently supplied the S Stock trains, and the Victoria line before that, whereas Hitachi has the signalling experience from Denmark and Thameslink.” Of course, it must be remembered that this is a systems bid, combining trains, maintenance, signalling and traffic management. So perhaps the more experience the better.

Stadler – swift response

The contract for 58 three- and four-car, low floor, multiple unit (MU) FLIRT passenger trains, signed in May 2015 with Dutch Railways (NS), marks an important phase in Stadler’s steady rise to prominence in the rail market.

“While we already deliver to private operators in the Netherlands, this is our first contract with state operator NS,” Michael Schwarz, marketing and sales director (Scandinavia, UK and the Netherlands), Stadler Rail Management, told Rail Engineer. “And secondly, time to delivery was fast, very fast – just 19 months between signing and completion of the first unit.”

Under construction at the company’s factory in Poland, the units will enter into commercial operation from December 2016. There are already some 1,000 MU FLIRTs operating in 18 countries worldwide.

Stadler certainly made its mark at InnoTrans 2016, presenting not one but six different rail vehicles in the outdoor exhibition area. In addition to the FLIRT for the Netherlands, also on display was the E250, the constructor’s first high-speed multiple unit train, destined to run for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) through the newly opened (June 2016) Gotthard Base Tunnel from 2019, the diesel-electric EuroDual Class 88 locomotive for the UK, the VarioBahn for Aarhus/Denmark, a CityLink tram-train for Chemnitz/Germany and a sleeper coach for Azerbaijan.


Atkins – Speaker’s Corner

Visitors entering the show by way of the south entrance won’t have been able to miss Atkins’ impressive flag display.

The company’s actual stand was less eye- catching, in City Cube A, but transportation managing director Philip Hoare climbed onto his (metaphoric) soapbox at ‘Speaker’s Corner’ to talk about unlocking the barriers to future mobility.

“As our world changes, the rail industry needs to be ready to respond or there is a real risk of it falling behind,” he told his audience.

He then highlighted the need to manage networks better, as new entrants such as Lyft and Uber come on the scene. “Here, investment is outstripping that in the rail industry, with the automotive industry driving hard.”

Then there’s another new technology, which everyone was talking about at InnoTrans. Hyperloop (more details in the next section) is an example of moving people in a different way. “But we mustn’t forget we are living in a changing world with changing customer needs and expectations, coupled with a changing world demographic and an ageing population.”

“How is the rail sector responding to all these changes? They represent significant challenges but I find it quite exciting. Here at InnoTrans, I’ve noticed all these cable companies and cabling solutions, but is this the future? Things are going to change massively…”

With massive change will come a big demand for funding. Philip believes that key to justifying the expense will be “putting the customer at the heart of the decision making process, and rail at the heart of a seamless, door-to-door journey experience.”

Although travelling from London to Brussels by car produces nine times as much carbon as the same journey by rail, not everyone is convinced that car transport will become passé.

New thinking is required. “We are seeing a massive proliferation of big ideas coming from start-ups across all sectors of activity/industries, but they seem to be emerging less in the rail sector.

“The rail industry should embrace these changes, dream big, and think about taking risks, sharing across data platforms, forging closer relationships with customers and delivering what they demand.”

And there’s plenty to look forward to. “I’m really excited about mobility as a service (MaaS),” Philip concluded.

From Beach to Musk

As mentioned above, there has been much hype about Hyperloop, and it continued at InnoTrans.

When considering how to efficiently transport New York City’s burgeoning legion of commuters, inventor Alfred Ely Beach commented in 1870: “A tube, a car, a revolving fan! Little more is required!” He was talking about his design for New York’s first subway, the Beach Pneumatic Transit.

More recently, this concept has been taken up by Elon Musk (and the media) and rebranded Hyperloop.

Since its (re)launch by Mr Musk in August 2013, the concept is both exciting the public imagination and disrupting the high-speed rail industry in a similar way, perhaps, to that of Beach’s original idea over 140 years ago. But this time round, it may well become a reality…

Alan James has been championing maglev (magnetic levitation) technology for years. He was the man behind the failed UK Ultraspeed proposal for a high-speed maglev train, an alternative to the controversial High Speed Two (HS2) project that is still very much in the running. In Berlin, Mr James was back in business as the vice president of worldwide business development, passenger systems, at Hyperloop One, the private US company that, with 180 full-time staff, is taking the concept very seriously indeed.

The Hyperloop system is made up of pods – for carrying heavy freight, such as a 40-foot maritime container, or passengers – moving inside in a pressure-sealed container that can be built either over- or underground.

“Since these pods in a tube represent a controlled environment, we can do clever stuff with the automated control system,” Dr James told Rail Engineer. “The almost-vacuum nature of the tube means air pressure is hugely reduced, so aerodynamic drag is reduced, which enables a design speed of 300 metres a second, or 1,080km an hour.”

So much for the way it works, but what about the benefits? “This system abolishes distances so people can live and work anywhere,” says Dr James. “It provides an on- demand service. It is an intelligent network for smart locations”

How does it perform in terms of emissions? Zero emissions locally/en-route, with the possibility of solar energy being brought into the picture. But Dr James points out that the system itself consumes relatively little electricity, not really due to the power of regenerative braking but more because of the very rapid acceleration to over 1,000km/h which enables the pods quite-literally to glide as a passive maglev (no levitation power involved) in a very near vacuum. “We estimate that only around 10 per cent of a route will consume energy,” he adds.

It may sound too good to be true (for example, there are still unanswered questions over safety), and far too futuristic for today’s resolutely wheels-on-steel-based railway system, yet Hyperloop One is not alone hoping to take Beach’s vision, now Musk’s, into the next dimension. There were also exhibits from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and TransPod Inc (Hyperloop)…


Making Progress

Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company since 2006, supplies railroad and transit system products and services worldwide. At InnoTrans, it presented a selection of its advanced technology solutions. These included EMD Uptime, a secure, predictive analytics platform covering the rail ecosystem. Built in partnership with data specialist Uptake, it is designed to help operators gain the most out of their locomotive fleets and help prevent potential failures before they occur.

“For this platform, we have reached out to partners from beyond the rail industry who are used to dealing with data analytics,” said William (Billy) Ainsworth, president and CEO, Progress Rail. Key features of the system include high scalability and the capability to adopt new models of data from multiple sources.

Another technology the company is exploiting is the use of unmanned aerial systems (drones), particularly for inspecting bridges and derailments. “We see real advantages in this technology,” said Paul Denton, senior vice president, marketing and analytics.

First time for SNC-Lavalin

Another new name for visitors to InnoTrans to get to know was SNC-Lavalin – it was still called Interfleet at the time of the last show.

Group managing director of SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit Engineering, Richard George, commented: “Last year, the time was right to complete the integration of all our railway assets and adopt the same brand across the full suite of activity. A new Rail & Transit team was formed within SNC-Lavalin; it’s essentially the same people as before, but with wider scope, greater integration of effort and a bigger and brighter future.”

The company’s international footprint includes a regional base in Aachen, Germany, where the Rail & Transit central European team is situated. The office is right on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, with good access to the rest of Europe via the wider rail network. SNC- Lavalin’s central European team was supported at the Berlin exhibition by Rail & Transit representatives from the UK, Sweden, Norway, Australasia and North America.

“The global focus of InnoTrans made it the perfect place for us to communicate our new structure and our expertise to the wider rail industry,” Richard explained. “It also provided a great opportunity to meet up with colleagues, business partners and clients.”

Anti-trespass interest for Rosehill Rail Rosehill Rail’s video wall provided an impressive focal point, featuring dynamic content and videos demonstrating how quickly and easily the company’s level crossing systems can be installed compared to traditional concrete and other modular systems. With a full-size exhibit of the Connect Road Crossing System on the stand, visitors could see for themselves how robust and durable the system is.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest in our products from visitors from around the world who are demanding products that help them to reduce costs and minimise disruption to their rail networks,” commented Andrew Knight, export manager at Rosehill Rail. “Visitors could see how quick and simple our products are to install compared to traditional solutions and other modular systems.”

With rail networks across the world continuing to focus on improving safety and reducing risk on and around level crossings, the anti-trespass panels also generated strong interest from visitors. Quick and easy to install on-track and off-track, the panels are a proven visual and physical deterrent to trespassers.

Andrew continued: “It was a great show for us and a fantastic opportunity to meet customers from across the world. We’ve received a record number of enquiries and I’m looking forward to working closely with the new companies we met at the show.”

Digital highlights

Ask passengers about the digital railway and the first thing they will comment on will be Wi-Fi connectivity on trains, followed quickly by complaints that it is much too slow.

On its impressive stand, Nomad Digital launched new software for its on-train communications equipment, enhancing connectivity and quality of service for both rail operational usage and passenger services.


HorizonTM will deliver up to 900Mb/s to trains and will be offered to existing Nomad-equipped UK TOCs from Jan 2017.

For on-board rail passengers, Horizon will deliver significantly higher aggregated broadband Wi-Fi speeds to the train, and offers the potential for more sophisticated content to be delivered more quickly, therefore improving the overall on-board experience for passengers.

Trials to provide live TV screening to trains have been successful on the ÖBB Vienna to Salzburg route.

Telent’s MICA station management system is now deployed at Reading, Clapham Junction, Stratford Regional and London Bridge to provide complete monitoring and control of all station activities. Its remit is to ‘stitch together’ all existing station alarm and communications systems into a single control package, thus avoiding having to replace everything.

The system on the Telent stand was a prototype configuration working in a mode that assists control room staff in suicide prevention, linking CCTV and voice announcements to a Gaitronics help phone. It also demonstrated the possibility to integrate and manage GSM and IP trackside phone calls and alarms.

MICA is also available as a line of route monitoring facility, already deployed on LU JNP lines for fire alarm monitoring and in the Docklands Light Railway control centres for monitoring of 1,400 CCTV cameras across the network.

Danish company Cubris is working with ESG in the UK to provide DAS and C-DAS (driver advisory systems and connected-DAS). Together, they have been awarded a significant contract by South West Trains, with many trains already fitted. Recent updates have improved information flow on the impact of timetable alterations and emergency engineering work.

Cubris is working closely with SWT and the unions to get driver acceptance of DAS’ value.

The full benefit of C-DAS cannot be realised until an associated traffic management system is also implemented.

Belden, a US company with a UK base, has progressed from a cable clip manufacturer to a provider of on-train Ethernet backbones for the support of passenger Wi-Fi provision in conjunction with Icomera.

The company has also developed a system for real-time CCTV picture relaying from train to control centre, aimed at passenger behaviour monitoring on metro and light rail systems. It uses wireless trackside radio stations, located every 300 metres and working in either the 2.4Gbit unlicensed band or a 50-60MHz licensed channel allocation. The system has already been deployed on Munich U-Bahn and Metro Malaga.

Signalling and telecommunications giant Thales launched a new approach to cyber security, co-ordinating work done by NIST in the USA, IEC, ISO, Cenelec and APTA. This builds up security information and links it into a series of layers.

The new approach conforms to the forthcoming EU NIS Directive, which will be fully implemented in December 2020. It considers much more than IT security and concentrates on the whole business of automation technology. While the methodology is based around the sequence Identify – Protect – Detect – Respond – Recover, the protection offered will not be specific to Thales-supplied systems and introduces the ‘data diode’ concept to prevent corrupted data from being reverse fed back into the system.


The Frequentis stand was popular for several reasons. It had the best chocolate cake, hand carried in from Vienna. It had Mozart Balls (if you don’t know about Mozart Balls – Google them). It had blue rubber ducks – a natural attraction for visitors with children (and those who like rubber ducks).

And it also had a promotion of the company’s BIC (Bearer Independent Communication) system being installed in Finland, where GSM-R radio is being replaced by a TETRA system as part of the emergency services radio networks. The work involves the enhancement of those networks for better coverage and the provision of additional facilities such as Group Call.

The intention is that the Frequentis control terminals will allow the presentation of information to the controllers to be identical to that which exists at present, thus making changeover easy.

Nokia held a press briefing to describe the trial on Paris Metro Line 14 using an LTE 4G radio link to provide all the communications requirements from shore to train, including safety critical applications. The trial, which is known as SYSTUF (System Transport Urban Future) and would replace six existing systems, was successful and included CBTC, on-board CCTV, passenger information, clock synchronisation, operational voice communications and remote maintenance diagnostics, all on the one radio bearer.

Only one train was involved in the trial, and it was not in passenger service. The system operated in the 2.6GHz frequency band with a 20 MHz bandwidth. For ongoing roll out, an agreed spectrum allocation will be required.

Ericsson is also looking at the use of LTE 4G for railway communications. Working with Icomera to provide passenger communication facilities on all DB trains, the project is being expanded to provide better radio links for all services. Under the banner ‘LTE for Rail’, the plan is to adapt public LTE 4G products for rail use.

New standards will be needed to ensure interoperability between suppliers once LTE becomes an agreed way forward, and this will involve the UIC FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System) group. Its vision is to create an Internet of Things for the rail industry, which will require Ericsson and others to work together so as to agree the fundamental spectrum and streaming requirements.

As a provider of GSM-R infrastructure, Kapsch has an ongoing commitment to supply equipment until at least 2030, a fact that will give welcome assurance to many railways. However, Kapsch is also mindful that migration away from GSM-R to a different technology has to happen and is studying how it can best serve the railways with migrating existing systems to an LTE backbone.


Representing the Chinese effort to design and provide control and communication systems for the global rail market, Huawei can boast of continuing success with GSM-R production. Looking to the future, the company is now developing digital command systems for the full automation of metro operations.

Huawei’s system will include LTE 4G as the radio bearer to support CBTC, live streaming of TV for UTO (Unattended Train Operation), PIS, train monitoring and other services, all contained within a new style of command and control centre.

The Guangdong-based company also has a vision of cloud computing offering the opportunity for rail to retain the same software packages on a single hardware platform, thus yielding significant power savings.

New lightweight circuit breaker

The TE Connectivity stand was interesting. It contained four products that were so new that they weren’t even the subject of a leaflet or catalogue. They were literally being seen for the first time.

The most interesting was a new HV vacuum circuit breaker designed to go on the roof of a train. A modular system, it is only half the height of existing models and is fully isolated under an earthed, protective outer case, making it ‘touch safe’.

The low height reduces aerodynamic drag and, although designed to be used on the roofline, it is so small and light (80kg) that it can even be mounted underfloor, vertically on a carriage end or in a cabinet inside a locomotive.

The circuit breaker has an integrated surge arrestor and uses new T-connectors to interface with the train’s HV cabling. The small control box is separate, adding further flexibility to the system. The circuit breaker has a fast firing-time, and the light weight and small size of the unit allows it to be mounted on bushes, reducing noise transfer into the coach interior.

A new elbow, also modular and manufactured using the same lightweight materials and concepts, was another of the new products on display.

Larger kit

Windhoff, manufacturer of Network Rail’s high-output electrification train as well as various multi-purpose vehicles, has a new look this year. A new logo gave the company’s stand a smart new look, which stretched from the machines parked outside to the salesmen’s ties.

A brand new design of twin-axle self-propelled maintenance vehicle for the Norwegian Jernbaneverket was the main item of interest. 21 are being produced as track and catenary maintenance vehicles, with the one on Windhoff’s stand being the third – the first two are already on test in Norway.

Rail milling specialist Linsinger always has a pavilion in the outdoor display with a large rail milling machine parked next to it.

This year, there was indeed a two-car rail miller in the outside display area, similar to the one which Crossrail is buying for delivery in 2018. But it wasn’t next to the pavilion. So what was?

A closer look revealed that what seemed to be a large rail milling machine was actually a small one, on a trailer! It was the new, self-contained miller destined for use on the world’s metros and underground railways. Designed to fit down the London tube, and other small railways around the globe, it also fits into a 40’ container. So when someone wants to rent it, or have one delivered, it’s into the box and off she goes…

Diesel engine manufacturer, and Rolls Royce subsidiary, MTU displayed its new Hybrid PowerPack on its stand in hall 18. This combines a conventional diesel engine and gearbox assembly with an electrical machine mounted between the two. During braking, regenerated electrical energy is stored in an on-board battery pack which consists of 180 individual Li-ion cells and has a capacity of 30.6 kilowatt hour. This energy is later released to drive the electrical machine in ‘motor’ mode, supplementing the diesel energy and saving fuel. The machine can also be used as a generator to charge the battery cells directly.

The new PowerPack has already covered 15,000 miles in testing. Bernd Krüper, vice- president of MTU’s industrial business, said: “Using this drive system, operators will be able to achieve fuel savings of up to 25 per cent, while enjoying a significant reduction in exhaust and noise emissions. Furthermore, the integrated electric machine provides increased acceleration and the possibility of making up for delays.”


Turkish manufacturer Yavuzlar Vagon had an interesting display on its stand – the steel skeleton of a freight locomotive. Intended to show both
the skill of the Yavuzlar designers and fabricators and the strength built into such vehicles, it did leave one wondering how they had got it onto a reasonably small stand in hall 8.1!

Seemingly simple

Some new developments seem so obvious that one is surprised they’ve not been done before. Hellermann Tyton, producer of shrink- wrap sleeving and other cable management products, had just such an innovation on its stand.

For years, the company has manufactured a range of cable-tie anchors, flat plates which are stuck to a panel so a cable tie can be slid through a slot in the mount and used to anchor a bunch of cables. But what if the underlying panel is not flat, but curved?

After years of having installers struggle with rigid mounts, the simple answer was – add some grooves to the plate. Now the plate bends, and can be easily stuck to the panel – even around an edge. Simple, seemingly obvious, and now patented!

The railway industry uses a lot of specialised equipment. Produced to high standards in small numbers, it is expensive to manufacture and, twenty years later, expensive to service as component parts become obsolete and hard to obtain.

It’s much cheaper to use COTS (commercially off-the-shelf) equipment, if it is of good enough quality and meets safety standards.

HIMA has been making equipment for the process industry for years. Another sector that requires high standards and can keep equipment in service for decades, its needs are very similar to those of the railway. So similar, in fact, that much of it is also used in rail, but almost by chance.

Now HIMA is using equipment, PLCs (programmable logic controllers) and the like in safety-critical railway applications. Manufactured to SIL (safety integrity level) 4, the highest SIL rating, they are being used to control doors on London Underground’s new S Stock trains, giving performance such as 100,000 hours between failures. Impressive!


Some of the stands at InnoTrans were attractive because they showcased interesting equipment. Kawasaki’s new efWING bogie has a frame made from CFRP (carbon-fibre reinforced polymer), a material that exhibits exceptional strength despite being lightweight and is often used in the aerospace industry. This means that the efWING is, in effect, the world’s first plastic bogie. The novelty was helped by having it painted black, but with highlights picked out in bright red. A real ‘go faster’ bogie!

Other stands were themselves the attraction. Ricardo Rail, another new name for visitors (it had been Lloyd’s Register Rail when last at InnoTrans in 2012), featured a large, three panel wall on which cartoon artists were drawing throughout the show. As visitors discussed their railway interests and concerns with Ricardo Rail staff, the artists turned those thoughts into art. An interesting and novel way of keeping a record of visitors to the stand!

The Aluminium Lighting Company, tucked away as part of the Welsh Government stand, were showing an interesting pivoting lamppost. In fact, it wasn’t just for lamps, but for PA speakers, solar panels or anything else that needs mounting high up but has to be accessible for maintenance. Undo some bolts, remove the clamp, and the lightweight post can be rotated down so everything is within reach.

On a similar theme was the CCTV mast to assist driver-only operation on Crossrail. The two CCTV cameras have to operate in a specific zone – clear of the train, inaccessible to people on the platforms but also away from high-voltage overhead lines. Engineers can’t even go up there to maintain the cameras, so there is an electric motor installed that drops the arm down to them in a position of safety. The whole mast even has built-in pigeon prevention wires – a neat touch!

After hours

So that was a quick canter around the interesting displays at InnoTrans 2016, both inside and out.

And after the show closed at 18:00 every night? Well, then it was networking time. On the first day, Bombardier hosted a great reception on its stand. The company’s staff were on hand and there was plenty of time to chat. ‘Old boy’ Noel Travers, former Bombardier managing director
in the UK and now at Unipart Rail, stopped by to say hello, as did most of the staff of Rail Alliance.


Then it was on to Dellner – the coupling manufacturer celebrating its seventy-fifth birthday. There was music, and dancing, and cake!

Wednesday’s after-hours networking started at Hitachi Rail, but then Rail Media had it’s own event, a Rail Exec Club reception in conjunction with recruitment specialist Ford & Stanley. Held in the Oktoberfest tent, with large mugs of beer and plates of sausages, over 100 visitors to InnoTrans got together for a couple of hours. It was a good cross-section of people – the DfT, railway operators, infrastructure managers, civil engineering contractors, component suppliers and service providers. A good time was had by all.

By Friday night, it was all over for another two years. Four days, 41 halls, 2,955 exhibitors and 64,889 steps taken trying to look round it all (that’s over 40 kilometres!).

Time to rest up until 18-21 September 2018 when we can do it all again…

Thanks to the Rail Media team at InnoTrans who all helped with this article.



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