Huge success in Prague!
The international showcase of railcar interior technologies, materials and design services, which moved to its new home in Prague, Czech Republic, for the first time in 2015, not only proved a big draw for the domestic OEMs Škoda, Siemens and Bombardier, but also attracted visitors from 76 countries.
Martin Plšek, who is responsible for purchasing at Škoda, was one of the many who explained what he achieved by visiting the expo: “It’s a good opportunity to see our current suppliers, but I've met many possible new suppliers,” he said. Likewise, Hasret Altun, mechanical engineer from the research and development department of Turkish Wagon Industry: “I came to Prague because I wanted to see the newest materials and technologies.” Meanwhile, Donald R Mebius, senior consultant at LTK Engineering Services in the USA, said he made the long journey to Europe because he wanted to learn about some innovations that might be viable to apply in the USA: “Some of the flooring systems are not utilised in the USA, and I need to follow up with some of them to see if that will work with US regulations."
Patrick Strandqvist, sales manager of Metalcolour, Sweden, was another attendee who was particularly won over by Railway Interiors Expo. “The rail industry is completely new to us. We have some technologies that we want to introduce, and all the certification ready, so now we’re ready for the next step,” he explained. “I’m a visitor but we’ve just signed up for 2017 as an exhibitor.”
Sat within the exhibition hall was a free-to-attend conference that featured two presentation stages and over 60 expert speakers. And it was standing room only for all sessions. “What's been interesting for me has been these presentations,” said Jaime Borrell, market and portfolio director at Alstom. “I’m in R&D, and I’ve found some pretty good concepts for inspiration.”
Among the speakers was Paul Wartenweiler, BU manager, composites, at Walter Mäder, who drew a huge crowd to listen to his explanation of various manufacturing techniques for composite parts. Earlier that day, Dominik Deschner, CIO at DB Heavy Maintenance, outlined how 3D visualisation can be used to support the design process during rolling stock refurbishments. He demonstrated the company’s 3D tool, showing how items such as bike racks, seats and monitors could be added to the visualisation in real time, and seat fabrics and colours could also be previewed.
Another conference highlight was a presentation by Jon Spratley, director of 42 Technology, who demonstrated an Adaptable Carraige Concept that would enable operators to carry freight on passenger trains during off-peak periods.
Bernhard Rüger, researcher at Vienna University of Technology, discussed the subject of efficiency, and also moderated the Mainstream Conference. “The quality is really good,” he said. “Because I’ve worked for 15 years now in the field of interior concepts, it’s always interesting for me to be at a conference that is really focused on that topic. I know many railway conferences, some that are quite interesting, but they’re talking about everything to do with railways. The dedicated focus here is just fantastic.”
“The forums were really crowded and the networking worked very, very well; we met a lot of people from different areas,” said Jose Rui Marcelino, CEO of Alma Design, who gave a conference presentation on the company’s inTRAIN research and development project. “The aftermath was very positive, especially because we also found some solutions for things that are going on on projects right now.”
A new feature of this year’s event was that attendees could take part in creative workshops run by Tangerine and Saffron. “We’ve had all sorts of delegates – from train operators, rolling stock manufacturers, suppliers, as well as other industrial design houses – coming along and talking and learning about how design can influence and improve rail experiences for customers,” said Joy Grover, marketing manager at Tangerine.
Back on the exhibit floor, Forbo Flooring Systems introduced Coral Move, a tufted carpet compliant with HL2, which is available in a wide selection of designs and custom colours. Jacco Vlaar, head of international key account management, transportation, at Forbo, said the reaction at the show had been very positive: “Overall it’s been a very good show for us. We’ve been very, very busy.”
E-Leather showed its new EN-compliant, durable and sustainable E-Leather product, which is a composite leather made from upcycled leather trimmings. The product is compliant with EN 455 45 HL3, and Alexandra Bennett, global business manager at the company, said it is particularly appealing to operators committed to sustainable sourcing. “It’s already being specified among some key operators across Europe, so it's already in service, but the show has brought us closer to some of the other operators that had started to show interest in our product,” she added.
Meanwhile, Passengera demonstrated the latest version of its infotainment platform, which can incorporate maps and route information with links to city information; adverts; RSS news feeds; games; music; movies; e-books; food ordering; safety information and a notification feed. The company can supply the hardware and software, or just the software. The previous version of the system is in operation with Czech Railways, but the operator is upgrading to the new version from 2016. Michal Teissing, project manager at Passengera, said one of the key upgrades is that the new version is optimised for viewing on mobile devices.
The show will return to Prague in 2017.