A recap on InnoTrans – September 2018

Held in Berlin towards the end of September, InnoTrans 2018 featured a record sized Australian delegation – with 41 companies/agencies and 96 delegates.

Numerous breaks were required given that over the four days, we each covered more distance than the Berlin marathon runners, who were in Berlin the week before, according to our iPhones. We spent most of our time visiting the exhibits, but there was also a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ which hosted a number of presentations every day and included a presentation by Downer on asset management and their work on condition monitoring software called Train DNA.

With over 3,000 exhibitors present, some industry themes stood out. The use of energy storage, especially lithium battery technology on trains, had a notable presence. MTU, a major engine manufacturer now owed by Rolls Royce, has developed a Hybrid PowerPack (image 2).

Members of the Australian delegation were able to visit the MTU factory in Friedrichshafen and attend a presentation by MTU engineers explaining the rational and benefits of the hybrid system.

The MTU Hybrid has a 30.6 kW/h scaleable battery pack. The Hybrid PowerPack has the benefit of energy efficiency, low emissions (which is useful at stations and also lowers total CO2 emissions), noise reduction and the ability to operate on sections where overhead lines are not feasible, such as line extensions.

Starting in 2021, MTU will supply nine hybrid drives to Irish Rail and, if the conversion is successful, 234 units for the entire fleet. MTU agreed with Alstom to investigate the use of hybrid drives.

CRRC displayed a new Urban Rail Vehicle Platform demonstrating a number of propulsion, materials and digital advances. The vehicle has a carbon fibre car body, permanent magnet direct drive motor, autonomous driving, and internet connected touch screen windows (image 3), amongst other advancements. The benefits of carbon fibre are a 35 per cent reduction in weight compared with aluminium alloy and improved thermal and sound insulation.

Also presented by CRRC was an inspection robot that could take images of the train undercarriage. Advanced technologies such as inspection robots, condition-based monitoring technology, virtual reality and advanced composite materials (including porous aluminium and sandwich panels) were emerging and it will be interesting to see how much these fledgling technologies have developed by the next InnoTrans in 2020.

Bombardier displayed their ‘Talent’ battery powered train which has 300 kW/h capacity and can travel 40 km on battery power. The first vehicle is planned to be tested by Deutsche Bahn in the Ulm region. Siemens also held an official handover ceremony of the ‘Cityjet eco’ to the Austrian Federal Railways, which has a 528 kW/h battery and range of 80 km in battery mode (image 4).

For anyone considering attending InnoTrans in 2020, it is not too late to start training for it (and potentially the Berlin marathon too!). We certainly benefited from attending InnoTrans and would like to thank Austrade, the ARA, and the Victorian and NSW Governments for facilitating such a strong Australian presence at InnoTrans this year (image 5).

The key benefit to InnoTrans was the capacity for us to gain insight into new and emerging technologies, while also benchmarking the Rail Manufacturing CRC projects against these technologies. We were extremely pleased to see that our programs are relevant to the rail sector and, in several cases, our projects are world leading.

– Dr Larry Jordan, Rail Manufacturing CRC Research Director

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