North American participation at InnoTrans is growing, as evidenced by Matthias Steckmann, Executive Director, and Kerstin Schulz, Exhibition Director, in the following interview conducted exclusively for the Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp. Railway Group—Railway Age, International Railway Journal, and Railway Track & Structures—with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono.
RAILWAY AGE: How many exhibitors are you expecting at InnoTrans 2014, and how does this compare to 2012?
Steckmann: This year more than 2,700 exhibitors will be presenting their rail technology innovations in Berlin. At the last InnoTrans two years ago that figure was exactly 2,515. It means that the fair continues to grow. The fact that this year we will be welcoming more than 200 international first-time exhibitors is positive in two respects: On the one hand it shows that in the past the overwhelming majority of exhibitors were satisfied with their participation, which is why they are returning to the fair. On the other hand, the arrival of new exhibitors proves that as an economic force and marketing platform, InnoTrans continues to convince more and more companies to take part.
RA: Are there any new countries represented?
Schulz: Yes, for the first time an exhibitor from Indonesia will be attending InnoTrans. Estonia and Greece after a break are again represented at the fair. A total of 51 countries will be showcasing their products and services in Berlin. The share of foreign exhibitors is close to 60%, which marks a new record. Basically, one can say that at the past two or three events almost every company representing the global rail industry at an international level was at InnoTrans. Consequently, there will be only marginal shifts among the various countries taking part.
RA: What do you think will be some of the newest and most significant global railway industry trends that will be highlighted at InnoTrans 2014?
Schulz: The fair itself is the world's most important barometer reflecting transport industry trends. Typically, the rail industry sets these trends with products made to satisfy customers' demands and by following the most important mobility trends. Based on the product announcements we have already received we can say that sustainability, digitisation, and in particular e-ticketing, as well as public transport networks and companies with concepts for integrating various modes of transport, will play a large role at InnoTrans.
RA: What are your general thoughts on U.S. and Canadian participation? Is it what you anticipated?
Steckmann: Fortunately our expectations have been not only confirmed but exceeded. That applies in particular to exhibitor numbers from the U.S. All four leading associations representing the entire U.S. rail industry will be in Berlin for the first time. They are REMSA, RSI, RSSI, and AREMA. Furthermore, floor space occupied by U.S. companies has grown by 18%. The combined display organized by REMSA alone is twice the size of the one at the 2012 event. The trend in terms of U.S. exhibitor numbers is very impressive. They have risen by more than 60%. These figures underscore the U.S. rail industry's declared aim to secure new markets and to stimulate export business through InnoTrans. As regards Canada, we can confirm that its exhibitor numbers, which have been consistently high in the past, will remain stable at this year's event.
RA: Are there any changes you have made to make the experience more meaningful for exhibitors and delegates?
Schulz: The basic concept of InnoTrans, which has been so successful, i.e. the combination of a trade fair, an outdoor rail track display area, and the InnoTrans Convention with its supporting program of events, remains unchanged. Nevertheless, there are innovations from which both the exhibitors and the more than 100,000 trade visitors from around the world will benefit. A new feature this year is the Future Mobility Park, which will present forward-looking, creative, and visionary transport concepts. The outdoor rail track site, which is fully booked up, will feature an additional Special Gauge display area where the focus will be on broad- and narrow-gauge rolling stock. With our student tours, introduced for this year's fair, we are actively supporting staff recruitment and careers for young people. The event features an architectural innovation, too: the CityCube Berlin, a multi-purpose hall that was opened in May of this year. This state-of-the-art building will provide InnoTrans with two extra floors for exhibiting products. Thus, for the first time, InnoTrans will occupy 40 display halls, which will give everyone participating an even more comprehensive overview of the market.