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LIVE COVERAGE of the opening ceremony of InnoTrans 2022

LIVE COVERAGE of the opening ceremony of InnoTrans 2022
photo: Archive/LIVE COVERAGE of the opening ceremony of InnoTrans 2022
20 / 09 / 2022

Welcome to the live coverage of InnoTrans 2022! We start with the opening ceremony. A number of leading figures from the transport sector will be speaking.

10:00 InnoTrans 2022 is about to start! The fair has been introduced with a musical number and the opening speech is underway. It is mainly about climate change and how to deal with it. Rail is the backbone for future mobility solutions.

10:10 Martin Ecknig, Managing Director of Messe Berlin, takes the stage and welcomes all trade fair participants. We must not take for granted the opportunity to meet in person like this - the last time we met was four years ago. It is great that so many exhibitors came, and thanks for the unstinting support. And no video conference can replace that personal, physical contact. The motto of this year's event is the future of mobility, and here we can discuss it, but most importantly, experience it and see it. In conclusion, he wished everyone a good experience and hopes that we will be able to establish new business relationships.

10:20 The next speaker is the European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean. She sees new technologies here that will revolutionise transport, and it is good that InnoTrans is taking place in Germany. It is the heart of the European transport network. Rail transport can be proud of what it has achieved. Trains are now helping Ukraine and the whole world with grain deliveries. In fact, they are helping to get it to Europe. In the future, we would like to double the capacity of the lines by 2050, and the year-on-year increase is now 3%, which is quite positive. European carriers are investing in fleet upgrades, but at the same time, it is not enough for interoperability. We want to have European capitals connected via VRT, and we also want to create packages within the EU to ensure that rail is competitive and attractive. We will present solutions next year. We also want to encourage people to take the train, especially young people. We also need to get them onto the railway itself as workers. When I look around, I see a lot of promising technologies and I know that they will not automatically get on the trains. So are the Member States ambitious enough to adopt new legislation, and technologies? Are carriers willing to improve their services? The European Commission cannot do it alone and needs partners to do it.

10:30 Volker Wissing, German Minister for Digitalisation and Infrastructure, takes the podium. We want to face the challenges of the future and the challenges of today, such as the energy crisis, or the war in Ukraine. I have heard from freight forwarders that energy prices are rising by up to 1000%. That is why we should strive for climate neutrality, and rail transport shows us that it is also about safety. We need adequate infrastructure for our people and industry. We must have the goal of a stable and safe infrastructure in our constitution. Therefore, we must adopt appropriate solutions and do everything we can to build a strong railway. We have agreed with DB to overhaul the lines under heavy load, especially the TEN-T corridor. We want to further modernise this by closing one line and completely rebuilding it. Then we want to continue with the electrification of the lines, and I hope that we will have a solid rail infrastructure in the future, along with that, we will address how to make it faster. This year we should get the appropriate proposals. The next point is digitalisation - it will help with the attractiveness of the railway. We should do everything we can to organise the whole system digitally and have as few empty trains as possible. Last week, we were presented with apps that will allow us to quickly find an available rail route and book it. That is why we need to connect everything to maximise our capacity. We may be in tough times, but innovation will help us get through them.

10:40 Head of Ukrainian Railways: The last years have shown us that rail is vital. People in times of war showed that they are a guarantee of safety. We have 240 railwaymen at the front. We want to get closer to the European Union and join the pan-European railway.

10:45 Now Michal Krapinec, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ČD, Richard Lutz, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the DB. They address the topic of Ukraine and talk about the humanitarian aid they are providing. They also talk about wheat, the export of which will prevent a humanitarian disaster, and we want to accompany Ukraine on its way to Europe. Michal Krapinec talks about how ČD sent humanitarian trains to Ukraine the day after the Russian aggression. And we have continued to do so. Richard Lutz then talks about climate change and that we have a great chance to achieve a reduction in emissions through rail, especially through alternative fuels. The next topic is digitalisation, and Michal Krapinec would subscribe to Richard Lutz's words, and we all realise that the railway is already very green. Transport should also be affordable and reliable. The average Czech citizen drives 26 kilometres a day, and 20 of those kilometres are by car - that is our competition. Digitisation will help us attract these potential passengers away from cars, especially if we provide them with a comfortable ride and quality service. We need to make it attractive. Richard Lutz agrees with Michal Krapince, and we don't want to force our clients to take the train, we need to make rail transport attractive at a European level. It will require high-speed infrastructure so that people fly less. Through VRT, we can connect European cities, and we will have something to offer people. Michal Krapinec would again like to underline the words of Richard Lutz. We should be able to provide people with that first and last kilometre in the whole transport system. Then, for example, use alternative propulsion for those other modes of transport. And if we can get from Berlin to Vienna in four hours, that will be a great success. And what about the subject of freight transport? We need more drivers for rail freight and adequate tracks to increase capacity, especially on the VRT. It is an issue for both passengers and freight.

The subject of DAC also came up. Richard Lutz says that we desperately need DAC at the European level. It should also help us with climate change because we can sort trains much more efficiently. We cannot have DAC only at the national level. Funding could be shared between several actors because we will be faster and more competitive with lorries. Michal Krapinec added that it is mainly about money. We are not able to finance it from our own resources. We need adequate financial support from the EU. Richard Lutz believes we can do it together, and he is looking forward to this joint journey.

11:05 The debate will now continue with Michael Peters, Managing Director of SIEMENS Mobility. He wants all trains to have the same software and for us to have a corresponding digital application to help us find the best possible connection. He thinks the 9 euro ticket that was recently in Germany is a good projection. Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Gen. CEO and Chairman of ALSTOM goes on to say that energy efficiency is a priority. We want to continue in the field of green energy, i.e. batteries, hydrogen or accumulators. Green power is really important. Peter Spuhler, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Stadler Rail, builds on this idea and says that at the last InnoTrans they presented battery power, and now we will present our fuel cell cars. Energy and cost efficiency are priorities that we have to work with. It is crucial that we also achieve better maintenance through digitalisation. Michael Theurer talks about the fact that trucks can be registered throughout Europe, whereas this is not entirely possible for locomotives.

Europe can take advantage of the possibility of hydrogen, according to Peter Spuhler. And Henri Poupart-Lafarge believes it is possible because there is now a consensus that hydrogen will have a role in road and rail transport. And probably quite a strong one. Today we have several ports that import hydrogen.

Michael Peters says that there is such a disease on rail - a lot of solutions have been developed nationally and a few years ago. So we have to try to make solutions up to date and at the European level. For example, digitalisation - our train will say it has this and that fault and then automatically schedule a repair. The problem is that each train manufacturer has its own system and we want our clients to buy trains for which they do not have to buy spare parts 40 years in advance.

Peter Spuhler welcomes this because it has a positive impact on reducing costs. According to him, the German government coalition wanted to buy hydrogen in bulk, and they are also planning a mobile data law to determine to whom the data will belong. There is still much work to be done in the digitalisation area. The application of new solutions often has to be paid for by the taxpayer, so European funds must be available to co-finance it. For example, the pandemic recovery fund could be used to finance the implementation of DAC.

According to Michael Peter, SIEMENS tries to go mainly to the customer, for example, on the transport ecology. People asked me if Egypt could afford VRT, and I told them that one high-speed train replaces 25,000 cars in traffic and can save up to €25 million. In addition, you also do not have to buy emission allowances. And what does Henri Poupart-Lafarge have to say about this? ALSTOM is present on all five continents, and climate change is the number-one priority everywhere. Peter Spuhler says they are working hard on new solutions, especially drives and digitalization. It is a big challenge for us because we have to find new solutions for our customers. Michael Theurer adds that if we can increase the share of rail freight by 25% by 2030, it will be a great success.

11:30 The ceremony ends. We look forward to more live inputs and articles from InnoTrans 2022!