InnoTrans 2018 in Berlin, Germany


It was that time again: September 2018 in Berlin, Germany. InnoTrans, the bi-annual binge fest regarding all things railroad, had opened its doors for a week. The big guys like Skoda Transportation, Siemens-Alstom, StadlerRail, Bombardier Transportation as well as Hitachi Rail were all showing off their newest and best. It was however the not so well know suppliers who made the exhibits quite interesting. I never realized that there would be an outfit manufacturing devices to prohibit rail bolt hole cracks? Or a gizmo that cleans pantographs? But then I am not a railway engineer!

Over all this loomed the 600 pound gorilla of railroading with its own exhibits, stands, video presentations, job and career center and a whole full size train in the outdoor area: Deutsche Bahn, the German railway system operator! They even brought their very own robot.


Watson Pepper (Deutsche Bahn Press Photo)

According to InnoTrans’ supplied statistics (and they are not shy to constantly remind one that this is the largest exhibit of its kind in the world), the 2018 event brought 3062 railroads, manufacturers and companies showing off their wares. Of those 1910 were from outside of Germany. This year’s visitor number stands at 161157 from 149 countries. Total exhibit space was a bit over 1 million square feet. 6 and 1/2 miles of standard gauge track was available in the outdoor exhibit area to show off full size rolling stock.

InnoTrans divides the exhibits into 11 product groups:

1) Rail bound vehicles for public and freight transport

2) Intermodal transport vehicles

3) Subassemblies and component groups

4) Service for vehicles

5) Interiors

6) Railway Construction / Infrastructure

7) Public Transport / Fixed Structures

8) Transportation IT – Management, Data Processing, Information, Communication

9) Freight Traffic Logistics

10) Services

11) Tunnel Construction

Product group 3 alone has 3312 sub groups: Fun things like exhaust filtering systems or locking mechanisms for train toilets. Anybody who has the time and inclination to take a closer look at the over 5400 railway related products can click here for a link to the InnoTrans product listing.

In short, it is quite the “anorak’s” paradise. So without further ado here are some of our photographs from the exhibit:

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-14.jpgPart of the outdoor exhibition area as seen from the Berlin Funkturm, which is in the center of the InnoTrans area.

1200px-Berlin_-_Funkturm2.jpgThe “Funkturm”. The very first television program in the world was broadcast from an aerial on the tower. It is still being used for mobile phone and public safety radio communications. It also has a restaurant which, surprisingly, is actually reasonably priced.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-6.jpgA more ground based view of the outdoor exhibit area.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-15.jpgThe entrance to InnoTrans from the Messe-Süd S-Bahn (suburban train) station. On the left is one of the numerous exhibit areas run by Deutsche Bahn. Catchy phrase they are using: Let me enterTRAIN you!

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-23.jpgAs always, the Wiebe Company brought their little steamer to InnoTrans for cab rides.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-16.jpgThe author admiring the windshield and cab windows for the new AMTRAK Acela Liberty trains to be built by Alstom. Why they displayed it upside down I do not know.

10-Close-up-of-train-in-DC.jpgThe look of things to come for AMTRAK: The Alstom Acela Liberty train. Alstom Photo

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-32.jpgThe Chinese had a huge presence this time around, occupying the better part of one of the halls.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-3.jpgThe Chinese also went around to different manufacturers equipment and measured, videoed and took photographs. This guy was using a measuring tape to get the dimensions of the driver’s desk on a Skoda electric locomotive, Deutsche Bahn Class 102.  While calling out the measurements, his compatriot dutyfully wrote all this down in a little black book.

IMG_4134.jpegMy other half leaving the aforementioned Skoda locomotive after inspecting the inside.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-20.jpgIMG_4130.jpegIMG_4128.jpegThree photos of the inside of the Skoda electric.

img_4133.jpegThe Number 2 business end of the Skoda.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-2.jpgA Siemens Class 462 for the Rhein Ruhr Express services. These Siemens “Desiro HC” electric multiple units are interesting in as much as they are comprised of four coaches. Both end units are single deck and contain the propulsion systems. The two intermediate units however are double deck.


A Siemens “Desiro”. Siemens Press Photo

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-18.jpgA new Hitachi train for the FS. (Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian State Railways) A double deck EMU for regional services, classified as ETR 521.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-17.jpgAnother new train for the Italian State Railway. This one was built by Alstom, branded as “Coradia Stream Pop” trains. These trains are also intended for fast, regional services.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-26.jpgSiemens and Stadler showed off their new trains for the Berlin S-Bahn system. These are third rail units classified as BR 484.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-27.jpgThe interior of the new 484 trains for Berlin. First impression is nice, with lots of space and comfortable seating. Air conditioning is now standard. As with most new commuter and subway trains this one is also using the “open” gangway system.

Usually one does not get to see much equipment for the British rail system at InnoTrans. This year however, both Stadler and Siemens showed off their creations for the UK market. Stadler is building trains for the Greater Anglia Rail Company. It is an interesting design. These trains are bi-mode. They can be run under catenary or with diesel power. Stadler has come up with the idea of putting the complete propulsion system into a small power car unit, sandwiched in between the coaches.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-9.jpg

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-10.jpg


The power car unit on the Stadler “Flirt UK” set. Notice that Stadler uses “Jacobs” trucks (bogies) on the train.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-11.jpg

This is Siemens Mobility’s new train for The Great Northern Rail Company. These are based on the “Desiro” platform. This is an EMU for catenary service.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-13.jpg

A truck close up of the new train. What I find fascinating here is the fact that they are using brake shoes, not disc brakes, on a train built in 2018. I thought that those kind of friction brakes on passenger trains had gone the way of the dodo bird.

IMG_3710.jpgAnother example of the Siemens “Desiro” platform. This is a Class 707 third rail EMU at the Chiswick (London) station.

Generally I am no friend of the new British trains. I find them cramped, with awful seating and noisy. Often the diesel engines are mounted underfloor and the constant roar on a long trip will drive you batty. But it’s the seating that really bothers me. Take a look at this next photograph:

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-28.jpgWho in the world would design this in a brand new train? Why is it so difficult to have the seats line up with the windows?

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-30.jpgIn this photo it is even worse. The fourth row has no window view at all, not even a bit. The seating on UK trains is getting worse than on airlines. This is the arrangement on the new Great Northern trains:

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-31.jpgThere is even less seat pitch than on Ryan Air! Compare that to this Swiss train:

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-29.jpgBut enough about me whinging.

Trams were on view also. Here is a Skoda tram for the German city of Chemnitz:

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-5.jpg


IMG_4162.jpegA new tram for Moscow from Transmashholding / PC TS.

IMG_4167.jpegAnother Transmashholding / PC TS tram for Sankt Petersburg, Russia.

MTU also showcased their wares. Among other things the company is a major manufacturer of diesel engines for rail applications. The new UK IEP 800 and 802 use MTU power packs. The new Siemens “Vectron” diesel locomotives also use MTU power. Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-39.jpg

This is the MTU 15M1P series underfloor diesel powerpack designed for hybrid rail car applications. It weighs in at 350 kilograms (772 pounds) and has a maximum charging power of 153 kW. It is EU Stage IIIB emissions compliant.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-43.jpgThis MTU diesel is designed for conventional locomotives. This 16 cylinder diesel puts out 2400 kW (3200 hp) and is also EU Stage IIIB emissions compliant. Among others the aforementioned Siemens “Vectron” locomotives use these engines.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-40.jpgA rail coach air conditioning unit.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-38.jpgAn automatic coupler manufactured by Miira/CAF.

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-36.jpgPlastic cross ties? Yes, indeed, if the STRAIL Company gets its way. They are made from recycled materials and are themselves 100% recyclable. The company claims a minimum life cycle of 50 years and a useable axle load of 30.5 tons.

And who knew that one would need a “Pantobot”? The Camlin Company out of Northern Ireland produces an automated system which detects pantograph anomalies. I suppose on an overhead catenary electrified railroad something like this would make sense:Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-37.jpgHere is what Camlin says:

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Just in case, here is a link to a video by Alstom explaining what a pantograph is: Pantograph: How does it work?   And here is a video showing what happens when things go wrong: Ooops! 

Irish Rail Diesel Locomotive 207-35.jpgNever did figure out what the attraction of this “frog” was.

InnoTrans has also now taken an interest in displaying city buses with alternative propulsion systems. I will get into that in another blog.

All photographs, unless otherwise stated, by Brad Wing and Ralf Meier. (Sony a6500, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8)

©Ralf Meier 2018

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