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Berlin INNOTRANS 2006 conference looks forward

INNOTRANS is the international platform for buyers and sellers of passenger and freight transport technology. The event has become as an industry showcase, focusing on the state of the art in railway technologies, including both infrastructure and rolling stock.

INNOTRANS conference hall

In his keynote speech, European Commission representative William Bird focused on progress made since INNOTRANS 2004. He also acknowledged the critical contributions of the European Rail Research Council (ERRAC), one of the first European Technology Platforms. “The work of ERRAC has been consolidated through the ‘Rail 21’ vision document and, soon, the revised version of the Strategic Rail Research Agenda will be issued.

“Another arrival on the scene is the European Rail Agency;’ he said, “which further emphasises the key role of interoperability and sees a rapid expansion in the European rail network to allow high speed rail transport between France and Germany. The links between the European networks are becoming stronger and stronger.”

Bird also highlighted the importance of the new sub-system modular approach in the sector, and he presented an overview of the EU’s upcoming Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013). “The intention is to move from a technology to a goal oriented programme,” he explained, “to make research funding make a difference and to focus on areas where the critical mass of research spending can shift the balance from expectation to exploitation.”

Focus on EU rail research

William Bird
William Bird

UNIFE, the European association for the railway supply industry, held several information sessions on EU-funded rail research projects, including MODURBAN, RAILENERGY and INTEGRAIL. Meanwhile, innovation in rolling stock and subsystems was on the agenda at the joint UNIFE/VDB seminar, one of a series of INNOTRANS sub-events.

The Chairman of ERRAC, Bombardier Transportation’s Åke Wennberg, provided details about ERRAC activities, including the recently published vision document ‘Rail 21’ and the on-going work on the Strategic Rail Research Agenda.

According to EU Project Officer Dennis Schut, other INNOTRANS highlights included presentations of the INFRACLEAR and WIDEM projects, positive discussions between European Commission and Czech Railway Industry Association representatives and an ERRAC plenary meeting.

Innovation on display

The INNOTRANS Exhibition featured stands and displays on railway safety, communication, signalling systems, infrastructure, train interiors, public transport, intelligent transport systems and services, and tunnel construction.

“Over many decades, but especially in the last five years, the European railway sector has built up a proud heritage,” concluded Bird, “a track record that will serve as a firm foundation for rail research in the 21 st century.”