CZ/SK verze

"Innovation is Very Important to Elevate the Railway Sector and Meet High Expectations of Society in Terms of Decarbonisation," States Dirk-Ulrich Krüger, ERCI

&quote;Innovation is Very Important to Elevate the Railway Sector and Meet High Expectations of Society in Terms of Decarbonisation,&quote; States Dirk-Ulrich Krüger, ERCI
photo: RAILTARGET/Dirk-Ulrich Krüger
24 / 11 / 2023

In a riveting conversation with RAILTARGET at the TRAKO railway fair, Dirk-Ulrich Krüger, the prominent Managing Director of Rail.S and President of ERCI - European Railway Clusters Initiative, opened the doors to the world of railway clusters and their significance in the European landscape. Navigating through his long-standing association with TRAKO, the significance of the Polish market, the drive for innovation in the railway sector, and the essence of international collaborations, Krüger sheds light on the evolving dynamics of the rail industry and his vision for its future.

We are meeting up at the TRAKO fair in Gdansk, Poland. I would like to ask you about your cluster's activities at TRAKO.

We are a railways cluster from South East Germany, and we are long-standing exhibitors at TRAKO. It's the seventh time we have been here since 2011, so Poland is a very important market for many of our members and that's why we go to the show frequently and so far it has also fulfilled the expectations as far as I can tell.

Could you tell us which kind of partners and companies are in touch with you here in the Polish market?

First of all, with us as an association, we mainly, of course, look out at similar organizations in Poland Southern Railway Cluster from Katowice. So we would definitely meet them, but also we look at individual talks with the bigger Polish companies that are likely to have supply chain needs and source from Saxon.

And did you find some new partners here?

Yes, I did. Interestingly, from Czechia. So we had our very first talks with Škoda Transportation, it was very nice. And then some other companies. We had many talks with many contacts, people, and companies from Poland.

And I would like to ask you about your future plans. What are you planning, maybe for next year? What kind of activities?

We will try to focus again more on Poland and offer bilateral activities to our Polish associations and cluster colleagues like business allegations in smaller workshops with Polish companies so that business relations between Germany and Poland can grow.

But it's not your only activity. You're also the President of the European Cluster of Companies. Could you quickly introduce this cluster?

Thank you, yes, I also have the honor to be the President of the European Railway Clusters initiative, which is an association for non-profit organizations in Belgium which has sixteen European Railway Clusters as members so people are like-minded and have the same needs and regional roots in different European countries, and our intention is to foster the business of the member companies and to help internationalize businesses on the European level and, potentially, even the scale outside of Europe.

The great topic is definitely innovations in the railway sector. Could you share your opinion on this topic?

Innovation is very important to actually bring forward, elevate the sector, and deliver the high expectations of society in terms of decarbonisation and increased traffic on rails, and that all needs the implementation of innovative technologies from other industries. Most of the embedded or underlying trends of technologies are already there, but we lack the implementation in the railway sector, and we need more speed on that.

My next question is connected with the Czech Republic and cooperation between Czechia and Germany. You have already met with my colleagues at the Czech-Saxonic conference which was made by the Czech Chamber of Commerce. What do you think after a few months since the conference? Was it positive for you, and did you get some kind of potential from this event?

Absolutely. We have a very positive outcome from that event. We had very good feedback from our members, so we definitely looking forward to increasing our bilateral connections with Czechia and repeating the events, and potentially taking those to companies in Czechia and Germany so that we will have a continued pace to develop innovation and common business perspectives.

Regarding my question about the innovations in the railway sector, I would like to ask you for awards in this part. What is your progress here?

As innovation in the railway sector is so important, obviously, as a cluster, our major task is to bring innovation forward. In the European Railway Clusters initiative, we have decided to make innovations more visible and use the platform to promote innovations. We use the trade shows to give prizes and awards to the lucky winners. And that's what we did here, at the TRAKO show. This year, we had 25 contestants. The contest works a little bit like a Eurovision song contest, as I always like to say. Every country and region can delegate three contestants to the European level, and this year, we had three winners. One from Austria, the best SME. Then, the best large enterprise from Turkey. And the jury's special prize, Coup de Cœur, went to the company from Germany. All very interesting innovations in the area of protective maintenance and passenger information systems and passenger guidance; they all are very likely to contribute to the targets of rail, to increase reliability and sustainability, and also increase capacity on rails, and that's why the jury decided to give the prize to these contestants.

And will you continue this trend next year?

Yes, it is an annual edition. It was a nice time we gave it away, and next year's award ceremony will be at the Innotrans show in Berlin.

Perfect. We are looking forward to it. Maybe it will be also interesting to make some kind of report for our magazine.