After a four-year hiatus the train could finally leave the station, and it was time to reconvene in person for the world’s largest trade fair for the rail transport industry, the InnoTrans 2022. And after not one but two pandemic-induced delays, the whole world of transport technology & mobility descended on Berlin to make the most of it. That meant a LOT of reunions, and a busy week for me with the Rail Leaders’ Summit (my 5th!!) for Deutsche Bahn and the German Ministry of Transport, and a Speaker’s Corner event for a new kid on the InnoTrans block: the International Monorail Association.

The RLS brings together 400+ participants including transport Ministers and the top brass of international transport companies to discuss challenges and developments in the sector – and this edition welcomed the new European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, as well as international perspectives from Carole Desnost of the SCNF Group, Katsumi Ise of East Japan Railway Co., and Brian Kelly of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Panel with Richard Lutz, CEO of Deutsche Bahn, Volker Wissing, German Transport Minister, and Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport

But the highlight was Oleksandr Kamyshin, the CEO of Ukrainian Railways, whose special address had the entire room’s undivided attention. A man who spends most of his days and nights on a train, Kamyshin oversees operation and maintenance of UZ’s continually battered but ever-resilient rail infrastructure which, ever since the first bombs rained down on Kyiv back in February, has been a lifeline for Ukrainians and their economy.

He was in Berlin drumming up support for reconstruction efforts, and his clear goals of cooperation and integration into the EU’s railway network are backed up by a commitment to clear communication that will go down in the case studies of the future. Check out his tweets that are by turns pragmatic, triumphant, defiant and always inspiring as he and his team do their utmost to #KeepRunningOnSchedule. Needless to say a humbling example of resilience and getting the job done that western operators could hardly ignore.

With Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of Ukrainian Railways

A couple of days later the IMA had its first official InnoTrans gig to present a new market study, showing growth potential in the monorail sector worldwide, the first step of a wider strategy to make urban transport a lot cheaper, greener and more accessible. And the study says it’s got serious traction, so stay tuned.

Photos: © Deutsche Bahn AG / JET-Foto, Ralf Kranert