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Live from Innotrans 2022: Rail Leader's Summit 2022 - Pioneering Transport

Live from Innotrans 2022: Rail Leader's Summit 2022 - Pioneering Transport
photo: Archive/Live from Innotrans 2022: Rail Leader's Summit 2022 - Pioneering Transport
20 / 09 / 2022

RAILTARGET editorial team brings you another live coverage from InnoTrans 2022 (20.-23.9.2022)! This time from the Deutsche Bahn Rail Leader's Summit 2022 - Pioneering transport event. Welcome!

16:00 Start of the event. We will be discussing the topic of rail and its role in today's world full of challenges, be it climate change or the crisis in Ukraine.

16:10 Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport, takes the floor. The rail sector has shown great resilience in recent years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and rail should be the first choice for passenger and freight transport. Therefore, the challenge ahead is to have quality infrastructure and services. We need to figure out how to implement new technologies easily. In particular, we need to work on interoperability, increasing line capacity and better traffic management. Another issue is cross-border transport and the related implementation of ERTMS. There will also be a need to introduce high-quality data connections for the digitalisation of the railway.

16:15 Volker Wissing, German Minister for Digitalisation and Transport, follows with his contribution. He is happy that the number of passengers on the railways is increasing, but at the same time, alternative drives need to be used. At the same time, it also sometimes happens that trains are overcrowded and people then return to the road. It is, therefore, necessary to work on making the railway more attractive to passengers. Digitisation of the railway could help, which will bring higher line capacity, better travel comfort, etc. Mobility today is leaving the national level and should move into a fully international sphere. However, countries need to invest in rail, but it is a very good investment because it will help meet the Green Deal objectives. In the future, we are planning a complete reconstruction of the corridors, where the whole line will be closed - it will be better than upgrading individual components. It will also improve regional transport, which people will use more. We also want to switch to ETCS on our railway. That is also why the Government has secured funding for this major project, and we may be able to do it by 2035. We also want to move to DAC as part of the digitalisation of the railway. It will ensure that trains are assembled faster and ready to run in a matter of moments. They will also have a stable data flow between the carriages along with the electrical one. But, most importantly, it will make rail transport more competitive with road transport. We will have more capacity on the lines or more accurate and better timetables, so better rail planning overall. The digitalisation of the railways will help us do just that, and we will achieve synchronisation of timetables throughout Germany. In the future, this would enable timetables to be synchronised on a pan-European level.

Another big issue is the rising energy prices, which are not favourable for rail operators. That's why we are preparing various packages and special fares. The success of the €9 ticket is indisputable - within a few days, the number of rail passengers increased by 25%. It shows that train transport is strong and can do many things in these difficult times.

16:35 Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukrainian Railways, comes to the microphone to say a few words. The railway is the lifeblood of the Ukrainian people and the backbone of the economy in times of peace and security in times of war. We want to be transparent about what is happening in Ukraine. Today we signed an agreement with Deutsche Bahn on support for the renewal of the railway infrastructure. And we want to lead by example. We are still keeping our company running in times of war. We never stop. President Zelensky is a leader who leads Ukraine by example. And we want to join Europe, we have the third largest railway on the European continent. We have a lot to offer, and we believe we will get into the European Union.

16:40 We are now going to have a panel discussion - Richard Lutz, head of DB, Wolker Wissing, German Minister of Digitalisation and Transport, and Henrik Hololei, Director General of DG MOVE. R. Lutz builds on the previous post and says that Ukraine's fight is our fight too. The fight for democracy, because that is the direction Ukraine has decided to take. It is also what has brought the European community together. We stand with Ukraine!

So what is the strength of the railway? It is certainly the most environmentally friendly way of transporting people and freight. We are also integral to people's safety. Look at Ukraine. Even in times of war, their railways keep the country running at the risk of loss of life. That is why they deserve enormous respect.

Mr Hololei will continue. We will continue to support Ukraine in its fight against the evil aggressor. And we will want Ukraine to join the European community. The railway is helping in this fight - it is the lifeblood of Ukraine. And what is the task of the European railway? To think European! The problem of European railways is that they think locally, regionally and nationally, even though the proportion of international traffic is growing. We want the Single European Railway Area project to become a reality because we do not need over 27 players, but just one.

Minister Wissing sees the future in interoperability, which will help make rail operations more efficient. We also need to make all modes of transport more interconnected, which is why we need to digitise and standardise the railways. We are currently working on digitising the ticketing system to make it simple and accessible to people. Also, for generating data that can then be used to improve services.

Mr Hololei fully agrees with this and also sees the future of the railway in digitalisation. We need to take the leap and move on. One of the tools for this leap is the DAC. After that, I have to involve satellite communication and make full use of 5G in rail communication. And above all, we need to attract young people to trains, which we can do precisely through the digitisation of the railway. That is why it is extremely important for the future.

R. Lutz continues and also agrees with the other speakers. We need to attract the emerging young generation to the railways, who are looking for companies that offer a future. Who are committed to making our planet habitable for the future. These young people can bring a lot of energy to the railway and lift it from within. We need to think long-term and build, not focus on short-term solutions, which is why digitising the railway is really important. It will also help the renaissance of the railway, we must not cling to the past and implement new technologies.

Mr Hololei follows Mr Lutz and points to the importance of SERA because of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. A united European railway will be resistant to such attacks. It is clear that European railways will have to be unified in the future; this is already happening in the Baltic States, for example. It is simply needed to make it easier to transport commodities across Europe, such as grain from Ukraine.

Mr Lutz is still on the subject of Ukraine. The country is already building new infrastructure that can be connected to the European network. We must therefore help Ukraine and gradually build up these rail links. And I can say that they are doing it quickly!

Minister Wissing took the floor again. We need to resolve the energy crisis, and if we were to come together at the European level, I believe that we could resolve this problem. The digitisation of the railways and interoperability will help with this. We need innovation and new technologies to build a better future. We need to be optimistic and work together.

17:05 And another panel discussion to follow! Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board Member for Digitization and Technology, Carole Desnost, SNFC Chief Technology Officer, Katsumi Ise, Executive Vice President of East Japan Railway Company, and Brian P. Kelly, Executive Director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

D. Gerd begins - We need to listen to our customers and offer them an attractive way to travel. German passengers want to be online all the time, so we have to digitalize the railways. One of the tasks is to fully implement 5G on the railways. We also want a green railway and would like to implement H2 trains from SIEMENS.

K. Itse continues. He wants to introduce specific technologies related to the digitalisation of the railway. For example, SmartEye for railway infrastructure management - collects data about the track on which the Shinkansen train is running. We are also collaborating with various start-ups and have started using drones because they make the job easier regarding railway repairs.

C. Desnost appreciated the previous discussion posts. He confirms that customer needs are very important and also that they change very often. SNCF is also trying to work toward a carbon-neutral railway, but there is a need to speed up the process considerably and also to secure funding for the process. This also involves increasing the capacity of passenger trains to make them really attractive to passengers. We have made great progress in shortening distances. However, we also need to reduce fares so that they do not choose to use the car rather than the train. To achieve this, we are trying to create a new kind of train for regions that are smaller and carbon neutral.

The B is coming into its own. P. Kelly. The high-speed rail project is really changing California. Especially in terms of distance. It takes more than 12 hours to get from one end of the state to the other by conventional rail. But high-speed rail will change that, and we are currently building almost 200 miles of high-speed rail in the Central Valley. Funding is challenging, but fortunately, we have been able to find the money at the federal and state level. High-speed rail will quickly pay back this investment by lifting California's economy, which is already the fifth largest in the world.

What about hydrogen? K. Itse introduces the HYBARI hydrogen passenger train project. Tests have been underway since March this year. JR EAST is working with Hiachi (providing hybrid engines) and TOYOTA (providing fuel cells) on the project.

It is followed by D. Gerd, who highlights the power of collaboration as it greatly accelerates the development of new technologies and solutions to problems. Therefore, we should join forces and work together to implement DAC and 5G for rail. Autonomous driving not only in trains but also in public transport will be interesting. It is another project on which we should work together. C. Desnost welcomes this view, as cooperation on the rail will move us all forward.