Office cabins and hydrogen propulsion: the future of the train

Et was a very long break: due to the corona virus, it took four years before the leading trade fair for transport technology, Innotrans, could take place again. Industry representatives from all over the world have been meeting since Tuesday to “see, hear and smell the products”, as the head of Messe Berlin, Martin Ecknig, puts it. When it comes to buses and trains, it’s less about hearing or smelling – the rule here is: less is more. But, as Ecknig adds, you can of course take a test seat on the exhibition grounds, which not only have 42 Innotrans halls, but also 3.5 kilometers of tracks for rail vehicles. With 250 world firsts, 2834 exhibitors from 56 countries represent the wide range of an industry that ranges from train manufacturers and infrastructure providers to service providers.

With the motto "The Future of Mobility" at the fair, the aim in Berlin is to make it clear: the future belongs to rail. In Germany, given the disastrous state of the German train just doubting it. But EU Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, who attended the opening along with Transport Minister Volker Wissing, assures us: "In the coming years, rail will be the focus of European transport policy."

"Railway industry is climate protection industry"

Not only the railway operators benefit from this. The railway industry also benefits from this. "The railway industry is a climate protection industry," advertises the German industry association VDB. The European goal of climate neutrality by 2050 will drive demand in all market segments over the next few years, expects the President of the European industry association UNIFE, Philippe Citroën. Many manufacturers are already looking forward to record sales and full order books. In the coming years, the world market will grow by a further 3 percent annually and reach a volume of almost 211 billion euros in 2025, according to Citroën's forecast.

With regard to the climate argument, one's own sustainability is also one of the major issues in Berlin. In Germany, for example, only 61 percent of the routes are electrified - but a continuous expansion would be too expensive, and diesel locomotives should be kept on the sidings not only according to the opinion of the industry. "Wherever there are gaps in electrification, the use of hydrogen trains and battery vehicles is an option," says Rüdiger Wendt from the Association of German Engineers (VDI). The battery for shorter distances, the hydrogen for longer ones.

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