Every two years, the world’s railway industry gathers on the outskirts of Berlin for InnoTrans. Billed as the “world’s leading trade fair for rail transport technology”, it attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the world.

The exhibition is vast, and the numbers are impressive. Last held in September 2010, a total of 2,243 exhibitors from 45 countries showed off their products and services to over 106,000 visitors. 81,000 square metres of floor space were rented out, and there were 121 vehicles on display outside on 3,500 metres of sidings.

This year, InnoTrans will take place from 18-21 September at the exhibition grounds on the outskirts of the German capital, and once again the rail engineer will be there to talk with industry contacts and find out what’s new. There will even be a Rail Media stand, Stand 212L in Hall 2.2, so if you come along, pop in and say hello.

British showcase

Some 117 UK exhibitors will be present, and will always be pleased to greet visitors. However, they are mainly there to talk with foreign buyers and specifiers, so it will be the overseas companies that will be most interested to meet with British attendees.

From the home countries, Balfour Beatty Rail will be showcasing the latest smart solutions for sustainable railways, including demonstrating Building Integrated Management (BIM) – where physical meets digital by linking 3D/4D design models with highly efficient, often robotic production techniques enabling off-site assembly in a way that’s never previously been possible.

Balfour Beatty Rail will also be updating visitors on Denver Eagle – the multi-billion dollar Eagle P3 commuter rail project for the Regional Transportation District in the USA. There will be a display on the work done for London 2012, looking at the influence of a major event into the infrastructure planning of a city in terms of sustainability and the lasting legacy. And Balfour Beatty will also have an outdoor display showcasing innovative solutions for improving cost efficiencies and performance.

Depot equipment specialist Mechan will be in hall 2.2. The Sheffield-based firm, a regular at InnoTrans, will be displaying the latest version of its Microlink jack control system following a complete redesign to provide a technically and commercially viable solution for the synchronised lifting of multiple rail cars.

These recent upgrades to the patented jack controller have enabled Mechan to install the largest single system of lifting jacks in the UK at the Alstom Transport Traincare Centre near Manchester. Microlink’s bespoke software is now operating a set of 44 jacks used to service the new 11-car Pendolino trains. It can be operated from anywhere in the chain, via a single cable, whilst a new touch screen panel provides constant feedback during the maintenance process.

In the same hall, rail systems engineers Rowe Hankins will be showcasing their ability to design and deliver effective products that solve rail safety and engineering problems and provide continuing development and whole-life technical support. Examples of this on the stand will include a growing portfolio of wheel/track interface (WTI) products and NICS, their Non-intrusive Current Sensor for the early warning of electrical problems, as well as the company’s range of world leading speed probes.

Gioconda, the specialists in high definition (HD) video filming and 3D virtual reality (VR) modelling, are regular exhibitors in the UK. This year they will be taking in InnoTrans as well. Gioconda provides HD video filming of railway routes to provide a train driver’s point of view for train driver briefing and combines it with positional logging for route assessment or asset logging prior to signalling system design. The company also undertakes 3D VR modelling of proposed plant or railway routes for assessment prior to construction.

These technologies are also cleverly combined to produce accurate motion-tracked VR models of objects, which appear and move as real objects in real-world HD video footage. This combination has a number of possible uses including desktop signal sighting, accurately locating signals without the need to go trackside. Other than on the railways, this technology and is currently used in TV advertising and Hollywood movies!

Siegrist-Orel, a leading supplier of high- performance cable markers, sleeving and printing systems, will introduce a new diesel- resistant cable label at InnoTrans 2012. Designed to survive environments where wire and cable identification is exposed to organic fluids and oils for long periods at high temperatures, the diesel-resistant label is ideal for mass transit applications.

Federal-Mogul Corporation will exhibit its new Ferodo® sintered brake pad range. “Trains are carrying heavier loads, travelling faster and further between service intervals, increasing the need for sintered friction materials for brakes,” said Dr. Tim Hodges, Federal-Mogul’s chief engineer (railways). “Federal-Mogul’s extensive knowledge and experience of friction materials enables it to produce the sintered brake products that the rail industry is demanding. These advanced materials are developed in-house using the dynamometer test facilities at our friction technical centre in Chapel-en-le- Frith, UK and will be produced at one of Federal-Mogul’s specialist sintering plants.”

Many other companies will be present, either in their own right or in one of the two British Pavilions. These will include regular contributors to the rail engineer such as Unipart Rail, Pandrol, Tata Steel and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Naturally, the big boys will be there, with huge stands and large outdoor displays. Siemens will be presenting its extensive green portfolio which includes Inspiro, the new-generation metro train, Avenio, Siemens’ most advanced tram, Desiro RUS, a powerful regional train for the Russian broad gauge network, as well as innovative concepts for predictive maintenance and service. In the exhibition hall, Siemens will be presenting its Rail IT portfolio, including an integrated dispatching and service centre as well as an intermodal real-time passenger information system. The e-ticketing solution shows just how easily cashless payment can work – charging for the service or route actually used, whether riding a train, using a bicycle or parking a car.

Outdoors, Siemens will be exhibiting a number of Vectron locomotives along with an RIC sleeping car for standard and broad gauge. The company’s offerings at InnoTrans are rounded off by smart grid solutions for intelligent traction power supply, which are tasked with having to rely increasingly on renewable energy sources.

Not to be outdone, Bombardier will be showing off its newest, smartest mass transit and e-mobility technologies for both fast-growing urban areas and longer journeys. These will include monorails and metro systems running through buildings, at-grade, elevated or underground, as well as next-generation solutions for electric vehicles.

As well as the shiny new trains, including the newly launched Frecciarossa 1000 high speed train for the Italian market, Bombardier will be showing off it’s expertise in signalling and level crossing control, high- technology components such as bogies and traction systems, all under the banner of The Evolution of Mobility.

Alstom will be showing the breadth of its technologies. As well as manufacturing trains and trams, the company specialises in signalling systems such as ERTMS, for which it has just won a major contract in Denmark. Overhead electrification is another area which Alstom is promoting, and of course the company has a leading position in the technology of very-high- speed rail travel.

Overseas manufacturers

The vast majority of exhibitors at InnoTrans are medium sized companies that are based abroad and produce high- quality products. Some are well known here in the UK, Matisa for their high-output on-track plant and tamping machines, ZF and Voith for gearboxes and transmissions, Knorr-Bremse for braking systems and Thales and Ansaldo for signalling. There will also be lots to see from companies who are less well known.

Crouzet of France will be showing its PBX Secure direct opening action switches, recently specified for door detection systems and emergency buttons installed on Russian trains.

Norgren, specialists in pneumatic motion and fluid control with more than 30 years’ experience in the rail sector, will be demonstrating its solutions to the daily challenges facing train operators, such as managing obsolescence, improving reliability and performance, extending maintenance intervals and reducing overhaul costs.

Track technology

The new Schwihag systems for ballastless track will be on display, including rail fastenings for heavy-duty applications and a new anchor for concrete sleepers. An elastic railway fastening system for bridge crossings on ballastless tracks, developed in conjunction with DB Netz, will also be on the stand.

Schwihag products for switch technology, from the classic IBAV slide and roller baseplate to the new spring roller device and roller assembly for use in moveable crossings, as well as point locking technology in a locking hollow steel bearer, shall all be exhibited.

RAIL.ONE specialises in the development, manufacture and delivery of concrete sleepers and railway track systems. Over the last decade, the company has expanded its portfolio of products and services as a result of intensified research and has implemented pioneering innovations for passenger, freight and heavy-haul transport.

Based on its existing RHEDA technology, RAIL.ONE, together with RockDelta, part of the Rockwool Group, has developed a solution for metro systems that reduces the vibrations produced by underground trains. The new RHEDA RX system features RockXolid rock-wool mats installed under the RHEDA track-support layer. These mats have an extremely long life, are simple to install and produce good attenuation of structure-borne noise. RHEDA RX are also quick to install in tunnels, providing a cost effective solution to transmitted vibration.

Track workers aren’t neglected as there are many machines designed to make their work easier. This year, the Plasser & Theurer machine and technology presentation will focus on its new fully-automatic rail welding robot the APT 1500 R (pictured left) – a technological advance in mobile flash-butt welding. The new machine includes automatic rail alignment as well as the capability of performing closure welds without any external assistance.

Specialist power tool manufacturer ROBEL will show its new petrol-powered 34.02 clipping machine, a Fastclip work module and an e-Clip module. These three basic components are representative of a wider range of different power packs and work modules. The patented quick changeover between applying and removing Fastclips without the use of additional tools has been retained. A powerful hydraulic system is still included, while the modular design allows it to be transported more easily than similar machines.

Complex electronics

Deuta has introduced the safe+ module of the DEUTA REDBOX (pictured right) recorder family. This “black box” recorder integrates functions such as dead man’s handle, roll- back protection, standstill detection, monitoring of maximum speed, monitoring of speed limit and speed relay. Deuta also manufactures speedometers, sensors and multi-function terminals for control train desks, and has introduced the “Deuta Academy” which offers a complete training programme in the subject areas of sensor technology, travel data recording and display technology.

Swedish ethernet specialist Westermo will have its well-known routers and switches on display. Westermo feels that the best way for visitors to understand the quality and robustness of its solutions is to see and touch the actual products. As well as this, there will be a chance to meet some of the communications experts who have been involved in data communications solutions for the rail industry going back over many years.

In comparison, German manufacturer Moxa’s total solutions combine high quality products for railway applications such as passenger oriented services, passenger information systems, communication based train control, remote diagnostics and monitoring with advanced technologies such as Ethernet Train Backbone (ETBN), automatic device configuration, and automatic carriage connection. An impressive range of products include wide temperature IP cameras, mobile communication units plus hardware and software for high-end roaming which deliver reliable video solutions for the use in both onboard and train to ground applications. Moxa ́s new TC-6100 rackmount train computer features modular design with removable storage trays for maximum flexibility.

Frequentis, the leading supplier of voice communication and dispatching systems, will be exhibiting its new solution for the operational management of emergencies. If an incident occurs, the Frequentis Rail Emergency Management 2.0 system leads its users through the emergency process in a quick and user-oriented manner. Designed for 24/7 continuous operation, the tool determines the responsibilities of individuals and organisations in a matter of seconds and provides a rapid overview of the situation.

Specialising in electronic systems, Berner & Mattner supports rail operators in generating complex requirements catalogues, modeling and simulating system behavior as well as designing modular system architecture. At InnoTrans 2012, the company will cover industry-relevant topics such as the pan-European harmonisation of rail traffic, the growing complexity of electronic systems and current approval requirements for rail vehicles. Experts will be on hand to explain how they support manufacturers in the development of train controls and which methods and tools they use for verifying functional safety.

Building on more than 20 years of expertise in optical fibre technology applied to the railway market, R&D teams from French manufacturer Souriau have succeeded in incorporating its ELIO® contacts into the VGE1 range of railway-qualified connectors. ELIO is claimed to be the easiest optical contact to use in demanding environments as it is a hermaphroditic contact, and insertion and removal is simple and can be carried out without the use of tools.

Optical fibre technology is increasingly used for railway equipment data transmission requirements due to the increased data transfer rates, enhanced security and reliability, increasingly long life, and energy savings from reduced equipment weight. Optical fibre can handle practically unlimited data rates, provides immunity to electromagnetic interference without shielding, and avoids any risk of electrostatic discharge. Souriau’s new connectors are more compact than standard electrical connectors, while providing higher performance.

Mechanical essentials

Lubricants play an important part in maintaining and repairing railway components. To ensure that trains and rails work reliably under all weather conditions, equipment such as wheelset bearings, traction motors, brakes and the entire railway infrastructure must be maintained in the best condition. Klüber Lubrication will be presenting its comprehensive range of powerful speciality lubricants for the railway industry at InnoTrans 2012.

Klüber’s new range includes a wheel flange lubricant which is suitable for automatic spray systems, a biodegradable lubricant for switches, fully synthetic rolling bearing grease for traction motors, and lubricants to keep train doors operating smoothly at low temperatures.

Talking of bearings, Schaeffler Technologies will be exhibiting its complete range of FAG and INA bearings. Experts will be on hand to discuss applications varying from safety for high speed trains to noise reduction in freight traffic.

The French Connection

Over 25 businesses and organisations from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy regions of France will exhibit in the Northern France Rail Pavilion, which will demonstrate the latest innovations in the regions’ rail sector and will cover over 320m2. As France’s largest centre for rail transport and technology, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy regions (in northern France) are home to 40% of France’s railway industry, with 13,000 people working in more than 150 companies across the sector. Businesses in these two regions offer the skills and know-how to provide a complete rail system, including infrastructure, rolling stock, control systems, maintenance and services.

Amid the new features to be presented on the pavilion will be the Transalley Sustainable Transport and Mobility Centre, which combines innovative R&D centres and higher-education organisations, together with businesses. Located next to the University of Valenciennes (in the northern French city), on the Campus for Innovation in Sustainable Transport, the centre’s 34 hectares are due to house a hi-tech transport hub and the University’s innovation centre. Additionally, the construction of a cluster of low-energy buildings (180,000m2) is also underway.

The Railenium Technological Research Institute will also be showcased at the exhibition. The institute, which is the only one of its kind in Europe, is dedicated to railway infrastructure and intends to become the world’s leader in rail-related R&D. Railenium combines exceptional testing resources with an extensive workforce of public- and private-sector researchers at a site that will soon create 300 direct jobs.

A total of 27 individual companies and organisations will be featured in the Northern France Rail Pavilion, offering a wide range of products and services.
The world gathers InnoTrans has such a reputation that manufacturers are almost forced to exhibit – if one misses a year, everyone thinks they must have gone out of business! So everyone who is anyone in the railway supply industry will be going. The rail engineer will be there, you should be too. We’d like to hear about reader’s experiences and discoveries, so please write to us when you get back. See you in Berlin!