InnoTrans 2022 – Berlin
Published on: 19th October 2022
The exhibition with its mix of actual trains, displayed outside in the sidings, and large exhibition halls on multiple levels is unique. For anyone who hasn’t attended, then this is quite a show. The sheer size of the venue and navigating your way round the halls is a challenge in its own right.
Hydrogen power and hybrid trains (electro-diesel and battery) were the key focus of several of the main train manufacturers. The desire to shift towards a low carbon economy is clearly beginning to have an impact. Electrifying railways, in the long term, would be the most effective solution but logistically it takes time and huge budgets. The commercial and technical challenges of adopting hydrogen have not been straightforward to overcome. The first hydrogen trains were displayed back in 2016 and it was encouraging to see that trials have been underway successfully and that they have started in service in Germany this year.
Hybrid power offers a more immediate alternative that is cost effective and uses proven technology. High speed services with hybrid power are used effectively for intercity routes whilst battery powered trains are also being promoted for Metro and light rail. The use case is more restricted for battery operation due to the limited distance that can be travelled between charging but the use of fast charge systems helps to make them effective for urban and city operation.
Generally on sustainability, the breadth of technology and choice of suppliers on show was impressive and it is reassuring to see so many companies committed to a low carbon future.
From a design perspective, the IdeasTrain promoted by DB Regio in its own outdoor display at the entrance of the show was impressive and showed what a collaboration between designers, suppliers and rail authorities could achieve when given an unrestricted brief. From our design perspective at DCA, most of the ideas on display have been around for the past 10 years or so in concept form, so the stand out feature was the full size mock up illustrating how they could actually be achieved. The quality of the physical embodiment of these ideas made for an impressive mock up presentation.
A radical alternative design proposal was on show from Max Bogl. Their modular maglev mono-rail system is based on a cost effective turnkey civil infrastructure building system. This challenges how we install increased public transport capacity in already densely populated cities. By offering a new way to build and install track cost, this concept claims to effectively provide real opportunities for both developing and mature cityscapes.
It was interesting to see that a number of manufacturers of city buses chose to launch their new products exclusively at InnoTrans rather than at the IAA commercial vehicles show being held simultaneously in Hannover, while others presented at both.
The summer garden outdoor space and a 500 metre test drive track was dedicated for bus exhibitors and this area of the show was well attended.
Here again, sustainability was a big topic, with Zero-Emissions buses being the main focus. Solaris and Škoda both presented their new Hydrogen models, while Ebusco, Van Hool, Karsan and VDL launched their latest generation of battery powered electric city buses.
Integrating road based public transport solutions with rail makes obvious sense and it was good to see that both sectors are embracing some of the same technologies and are both looking to drive passenger comfort up while simultaneously attempting to drive operating costs down.