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Main themes at InnoTrans 2018

HackTrain: “We have to develop our own model“


At the CityCube: the doors to rooms M4 and M5 on the third floor are wide open. Seated here are 80 developers, recognisable by their green T-shirts bearing the inscription #HackTrainIT. A large quantity of data in tiny characters streams across the screens of their laptops. What to an outsider looks very casual – packets of crisps and jelly bears on the tables, deckchairs, a view of the distant, sunlit exhibition grounds – is in fact an intense process. The groups of four to six people have four days in which to find solutions to various challenges facing the rail transport sector. For example, one team is researching the question of how travellers requiring assistance with boarding and alighting from trains can find out in advance what services are available. They are using the websites of various transport providers, but without any satisfactory results: “We have to develop our own model”. Another team is evaluating six months of data from a transport operator in order to identify the main causes of delays: “From this, working in the opposite direction, we can even determine what the weather was like in each case”. Another team is busy studying the websites of dozens of transport providers to find out about their booking processes. Which of them are frequently used? What makes them more accessible and customer-friendly?
Repeatedly an international comparison is called for here. The young developers and designers at the first Hackathon at the fair come from Paris and New York, Bulgaria and Sweden, Australia and Mexico. Only 15 per cent of the participants are women. However, they include the winners of three previous Hackathons, according to River Tamoor Baig, the organiser of this particular event. “It is often the brightest women who head the teams”.

Career Tours can lead directly to a new job

That is how fast it can go sometimes: Karan Singh, who is from India, and is studying Transportation in Valenciennes in France, found what he was looking for on the second stop of the Career Tours. “I came here in search of a job“, he said beforehand. TuMotus, an engineering company whose stand the tour was visiting, had posted vacancies, and Karan Singh immediately began talking to the manager. The free tours for students which take place three times daily (at 10 a.m., 12.30 and 3 p.m.) and set off from the meeting point in the Career & Education Hall (Hall 7.1c) offer participants an insight into various companies as well as direct vacancies. Quattron, a consultancy and the next stop on the tour, is also actively looking for employees. The Quattron stand bears the orange Career Point (CP) logo, which companies in search of young professionals are able to purchase. Their vacancies are posted on the walls of the Career Hall, which sports a bright orange design. The tours for young people are organised so that they visit these stands. Rui Wang, who is studying Russian, English and International Trade in Suzhou in China, also wants the Career Tours to help him find out about the German job market. Also among those taking part is 19 year-old William Mongeau, a student from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. As one of ten Career Award winners he received an invitation to InnoTrans. He is currently studying Software Systems and looking forward to learning a lot about the industry on the many stands in order to perhaps find employment in this field at a later date. As far as he is concerned, computers make rail travel more efficient and a more pleasant“.

International Tunnel Forum: The future on the railways is digital

Long-term objectives in tunnel construction: Investment strategies for new construction and renewal – this was the subject of the International Tunnel Forum on the second day of InnoTrans, which was organised by the Research Association for Tunnels and Transportation (STUVA) and chaired by its chief executive Dr. Roland Leucker. A large part of the panel discussion dealt with topics involving digitalisation and the European Train Control System (ETCS). Martin Muncke, Senior Strategy Expert, Asset Management and Strategic Planing for ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, reported that the first high speed section with ETCS in Austria came into service in 2013 and is operating very well. The aim is to have the new system installed by 2035. However, some lines are still being operated in the traditional way because over 50 per cent of freight locomotives to not conform to the ETCS standard. In this respect Muncke emphasised that all trains in Austria will have to be equipped with ETCS by the end of this year in order to be allowed to operate. “The future on the railways is digital”, according to Prof. Dr. Dirk Rompf, Board Member for Network Planning and Large-scale Projects at DB Netz AG, citing the many advantages associated with this process. The first ETCS route in Germany, between Berlin and Munich, has been operating since 2016 and the DB Netz board member reported that the effects achieved have exceeded expectations, in terms of increased capacity and availability as well as improvements in quality and safety, as well as cost reductions.

Product and Industry Highlights

Women in Mobility Luncheon: More women in the transport sector

Women only account for 22 per cent of the workforce in the transport sector, which still remains very much male-dominated. At the Women in Mobility luncheon over 100 male and female executives and management staff accepted an invitation from the local chamber of commerce, the IHK Berlin, Berlin Partners for Business and Technology, and leading associations and companies from the transport sector to discuss technical issues and reveal some role models. The objective of the organisers is to increase the proportion of women to 40 per cent by 2020. In her welcoming address Elisabeth Werner, Director Land Transport for the Directorate General Mobility and Transport of the European Commission, underlined the relevance of diversity for the transport sector. She drew attention to a platform introduced in 2017 with the title “Women in Transport – EU Platform for Change”, as a positive statement and a focus for discussions about equal employment opportunities for women and men. Insights into the work of the rail IT subsidiary DB Systel were provided by the CEO of DB Systel and CIO of Deutsche Bahn, Christa Koenen. Fundamental changes in working methods were introduced at DB Systel in order to speed up the adoption of innovations. Teams of around seven members of staff organise themselves and work more or less autonomously. Traditional management structures have been abandoned and replaced by flat hierarchies and faster decision-making processes. Following their lunch the participants had an opportunity to hold discussions.

A herculean task: Digitalising the railway system

Over the coming decades the intention is to rapidly digitalise Germany’s rail system at a cost running into the tens of billions of euros. The economic rationale for this decision was revealed by a study carried out by the McKinsey consultancy and presented by Deutsche Bahn and the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI) on Wednesday at InnoTrans 2018. With the threat of bottlenecks on the roads and railways, as well as the fact that the transport sector is a continuing source of climate-affecting emissions, there was in any case no alternative for meeting future mobility requirements and climate objectives, according to the State Secretary at the BMVI, Guido Beermann. Digitalisation involves the installation of an electronic train control and safety system known as ETCS, which the EU has prescribed as mandatory for all member countries. According to the study the cost for the foreseeable future will be 1.3 billion euros annually. Beermann explained that the advantages will include a standardised digital platform, increased reliability and capacity, and a reduction in operating and maintenance costs. All these factors will result in better utilisation of the network and better punctuality. As an introductory step, for the period 2020 to 2025 the study recommended the following digitalisation projects, with an estimated cost of some 1.7 billion euros: the S-Bahn (light railway) Stuttgart and the corridors of Scandinavia-Mediterranean, Cologne-Rhine/Main, Dortmund-Hannover and Magdeburg-Knappenrode. The latter has been chosen because of its importance as an access from Hamburg to the future “Eastern Corridor” for goods traffic. Deutsche Bahn board member Ronald Pofalla pointed out that the investment sum, although initially lower, was needed because the 20 per cent increase in capacity required a new planning permission procedure. City Cube, Hall B, Stand 406

A more enjoyable wait in the lounge

With Santa Clauses on 6 December and gingerbread for the Oktoberfest, but above all a new design, Deutsche Bahn AG has been able to increase customer satisfaction in its lounges from 69 to 87 per cent. This was revealed by Christine Stockmann, who is responsible for the group’s Onboard Services division, at the Onboard Hospitality Forum at InnoTrans 2018. The first of the restyled DB lounges was opened about one year ago in Nuremberg. A total of 15 of these premium waiting rooms are planned, beginning with Stuttgart and Leipzig in the summer of 2019. Stockmann described the research that had been carried out into customer requirements during almost two years of preparation. Surveys revealed a desire for more connectivity and also for greater privacy. To satisfy as many people as possible the new lounges have been divided into communication, quiet and work zones. Using virtual reality glasses, DB acquainted guests in the existing lounge with the new design and invited them to suggest improvements. Because they did not represent a separate profit centre, Stockmann was unable to say whether the relaunch of the 15 lounges would eventually prove to be a worthwhile commercial proposition. But one thing is certain: many customers will decide to pay for a more expensive first class ticket simply because of this USP. City Cube, Hall B, Stand 40

International Design Forum: Focus on people

During the InnoTrans Convention, on Wednesday the International Design Center Berlin (IDZ) presented a programme of lectures and discussions on approaches to design and interior concepts. From his work for the Paris transport authority RATP, Yo Kaminagai, head of the Design Project Management Department, explained that technical and practical considerations almost always take precedence over design concepts these days. To give people a greater affinity with public transport, however, it is necessary to incorporate users’ expectations in the new projects. Jan Wielert, Managing Director of the Berliner design agency Büro Staubach, used a project for the Wuppertal overhead railway to show the extent to which a contemporary design bridges the gap between the long working life of trains and the users’ desire for innovation and modern interiors. His project uses natural materials like wood and plenty of natural light from large windows to create a pleasant experience for travellers. Julian Fordon, product designer and managing partner of d.lab Innovation Lab (DB Vertrieb GmbH), and Matthias Fischer, CEO and product designer, neomind designstudio, presented the Deutsche Bahn concept train. Based on the customers’ own wishes, they have designed a train containing sports equipment, sleeping berths, swivelling seats, a playroom and separate work areas. This train can be seen in the marquee in front of the South Entrance.

Thales presents new solutions for digital train monitoring

Safety is the prime consideration in rail transport. At InnoTrans 2018 the French manufacturer Thales is displaying its SelTrac™ Generation 7 (G7), a new generation of automated train monitoring. As the manufacturer explains, this system enables customers to significantly reduce maintenance costs while at the same time ensuring maximum safety. There has been a particular emphasis on safeguarding against attack by hackers. Thales is promoting the new system with its “Cybersecured by design” claim. The company is also exhibiting its intelligent Lite4ceTM sensor for the railways, which comes with an evaluation system to facilitate track vacancy detection. For its Digital Services platform Thales has launched two new applications that are designed to make the maintenance and monitoring of trains easier. Hall 4.2/103

Continental: Special rubber compounds for every kind of component

The newly developed air suspension system from Continental consists of an air suspension bag and additional spring or additional spring module. The components comply with all the specifications of the European fire safety standard EN 45545. The product is deployed as a secondary suspension unit on the train, between the bogie and car body. “With this air suspension system we satisfy all the technical specifications and all our customers’ requirements”, explains Christoph Zander, project manager with the Railway Solutions division of Continental. All components have been individually certified and can meet all the requirements in terms of their suspension characteristics and durability. And Zander adds that: “For the first time we are able to combine the aspects of durability and suitability for railway use with the strict fire safety specifications.” To achieve this special rubber compounds have been developed for each component, and these not only comply with fire safety requirements but also continue to cope with the high demands imposed on them. Consequently the air suspension systems improve the safety and the comfort of rail vehicles. Hall 9, Stand 401

Dialog Forum: Digitalisation brings with it many innovations

The focus of the Dialog Forum that was organised by the German Railway Industry Association on the second day of the fair was on the subject of “Rail 4.0 – Innovations by the rail industry for improved climate protection and better quality for customers”. As Dr. Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Railway Agency, pointed out: “We are on the threshold of the wide-ranging introduction of digitalisation in the rail industry.” This process is also bound up with a great many innovations. This is also necessary in order to keep pace with other, more highly developed modes of transport. Essentially the aim is to improve the value to customers, the executive director explained. In this connection he pointed out that, in the absence of global regulations in this field, the railways face a problem of structural innovation. One example that he gave was the fact that every country has its own signalling system. It is this fragmentation that distinguishes the rail sector from road traffic and aviation. What is needed is a standardised European system for a digitalised railway, because otherwise the railways would be unable to meet the major challenges facing them”, Dr. Doppelbauer said.

DLR presents a high-speed train for future freight services

One of the highlights on the stand of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the NGT Cargo, a high speed train for the freight traffic of the future. The concept for this vehicle and its logistics combines numerous innovations and it is being shown to the world’s experts for the first time at InnoTrans. The display features five main components, namely the elements used in the construction of the car body, the bogie and motor, the virtual coupling, the innovative points system and the variable interblock spacing. As the project manager Dr. Joachim Winter pointed out, digitalised coupling is also possible on existing lines and substantially increases train throughput. On short platforms, for example, long trains can be split up before they reach the station, dispatched one after the other, and subsequently reconnected to continue their journey. Alternatively the two sections of the train can proceed in different directions after they have been split. Another possibility is to distribute them among a number of platforms. The train could also be made up of a freight and a passenger section. The demonstrator that can be seen on the stand illustrates the many different possibilities of dynamic, virtual coupling. The entire system is technically feasible and can now be put into practice. Hall 2.2, Stand 404

Getzner: Effective anti-vibration protection for urban areas

An anti-vibration system can now be retrofitted when railtrack is being renewed, and this is now being carried out increasingly. As Stefan Vonbun, product manager for the Rail Division of Getzner, explained to the press at InnoTrans 2018, the company’s product portfolio can make an effective contribution to protecting against vibration in urban areas. In various ways the installation of a cost-effective anti-vibration system during the course of track renewal can be very effective. “The operator benefits from increased tolerance for his rail line and the adjacent buildings are protected against vibration too. Local residents are less disturbed and in addition, working and living in the vicinity of rail lines is more pleasant.” More uses can be made of real estate and in most cases land increases in value”, Vonbun pointed out. Using the rail connection to Krakow airport as an example, the product manager also drew attention to the effectiveness of sleeper pads in inner-city areas. Hall 25, Stand 213

Good conditions for digitalising freight services

The political and economic conditions for digitalising rail freight services are currently better than ever. That was the unanimous view of science representatives and practitioners at the InnoTrans Convention’s Dialogue Forum. According to Professor Rainer König of TU Dresden, “a restructuring of processes can only be achieved through digitalisation.“ It was vital to undertake this restructuring process in order to meet the challenge of rising freight volume and continued global warming, said Manfred Enning, Professor of Rail System Technology at RWTH Aachen. In order to ensure this, König said, freight services also needed a permanent power supply and constant flow of data. His students had already created models mimicking automated train shunting, which to this day remains a mainly manual process, and come to the conclusion that “it works.“ It was important to collect data from the different sectors in order to establish a customer-friendly information system. According to Malte Lawrenz from the Association of Freight Car Owners, initial steps had already been undertaken. “We need to turn these ideas into business models.” All the participants agreed that it was time to overcome the latest challenges by introducing automatic couplings. However, in Lawrenz’ opinion this had to be done in intelligently, as it was the transport companies that stood to benefit economically. They would be able to save on shunting personnel, for example, whereas freight car owners would have to foot the quite considerable cost. State intervention was needed here, in a similar way to the digital transformation of signalling and control systems.

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