VDEI iaf Muenster
4 June 2006 - thanks to Nick Powell for this article
VDEI, or Verband Deutscher Eisenbahn Ingenieure EV (German Association of Railway Engineers) this year organised their International Track Technology Exhibition to take place in Muenster Westf. And I was lucky enough to be invited.
Budget flights have now shrunk Europe to the extent that international trade shows are now within reach of the casual visitor, consequently they are better attended than UK-based events, and are considered better value by those exhibiting. (I heard it said that Network Rail don't rate Railtex or Infrarail, so a proportion of companies are questioning their worth).
There were nearly 150 exhibitors present; though a lot had only a stand and printed literature, there was still plenty of machinery to look at. The centre-piece of the outdoor exhibition was dominated by Plasser, who fielded several tampers, RM800 ballast cleaner, MFS wagons and a recording vehicle. These were in the liveries of the owners, European Infrastructure contractors such as Swietelsky. Both Speno and Matisa were also well represented, with large stand areas. (Matisa's partner at the show was Strukton Railinfra Bv, from NL).
It was also interesting to see machinery from lesser known (at least in the UK) manufacturers such as So.Re.Ma. and Maquivias of Italy, and MTH Praha of the Czech Republic. Whilst Windhoff had a stand, they had only brought RRV attachments with them, due to them having no larger articles available for display.
Road rail technology is common in Europe as it is in the UK, there were exhibits from Colmar, Vaiacar, Terex, Liebherr, Autech, Schoerling and SRS, to name a few. Rexquote were represented on the Terex stand with an Atlas Gigarailer (belonging to ReadyPower), and SRS fielded the unique articulated crane that used to belong to Catena. Geismar fielded their KGT-V which whilst innovative has not excited much interest in the UK.
Also whilst not strictly on-track plant, the crawler-mounted tracklayers from Desec and Ameca were also on display.
A number of familiar operators & contractors were represented, with EurailScout and Sersa both prominent (Sersa fielded a Kirow crane which they were using to give aerial rides!).
All in all a very worthwhile visit, although just one day was probably not sufficient. With UK events becoming rarer (Railtex '07 is the next), European visits are likely to be the industry norm to view upcoming ideas and innovations.