THE HIGHEST priority is being attached to mobility without borders, by railway technology manufacturers as well as by operators and policymakers. This topic will therefore take centre-stage at #railtec2007 in Dortmund on November 12-14.

This unique conference and fair is the central networking platform for European mobility. Last year the German railway industry generated 53% of its sales abroad. Maglev technology for China, Velaro RUS trains for the Russian market and double-deck coaches for Israel show that German know-how and environmentally-friendly 'Made in Germany' high-tech products are on top. Experts anticipate that investment in vehicles for European high speed rail transport will double by 2020, by which time the network will have increased to 13?000 km, according to the International Union of Railways.

The opening up of Eastern Europe offers new perspectives in freight transport. #railtec will shed light on how rail technology innovations are strengthening European rail transport, and how the resulting growth is benefiting the industry. Discussions at the fair and conference are expected to add fresh momentum and promote rail within European transport policies.

Rail technology export successes will be presented at the conference sessions as well as the trade fair. One of the nine forums of the #railtec Transport Policy Conference will revolve around the strategy the German railway industry needs for long-term success in the European market. Dr Ronald Pörner, CEO of the German Railway Industry Association (VDB), is aware of the significance of international business. 'For the first time, international sales in the German railway industry exceeded domestic sales, by €4·6bn in 2006.' This shows that the German railway industry 'is extremely compatible with its globally-offered products and systems'. The industry has been successfully consolidated, and at the same time rail transport is gaining increasing importance in more and more countries as an economic and environmentally-friendly mode of transport. 'The German industry is benefiting from growing demand for rail technology', says Pörner, who has for the first time organised an impressive joint stand for leading businesses at #railtec.

Economic success is expected, but there are significant obstacles including inadequate rail infrastructure and differing regulations. These will be at the heart of the #railtec conference forum entitled 'Full speed ahead for rail freight: with international standardisation onto the right track'. Lorries can pass internal EU borders without constraints, but rail is still faced with virtual barriers. 'National regulations are still impeding free access to the rail network', explains Stefan Stiefel, Account Director at Angel Trains Cargo. Experts have counted at least 23 different train control and safety systems. All Angel Trains locomotives have been equipped to meet ETCS standards, but 'this solution is too expensive and we urgently need further standardisation', according to Stiefel.

#railtec2007 attracts high-profile international guests as a platform for cross-border dialogue on transport policy. In addition to Wolfgang Tiefensee, German Federal Minister of Transport, Building & Urban Affairs, four other European transport ministers and deputy ministers have confirmed their participation, including János Kóka from Hungary, Peter Mutafchiev from Bulgaria, Camiel Eurlings from the Netherlands and Vojtech Kocourek from the Czech Republic. They will meet for informal rail-related discussions at #railtec, and will debate current issues facing European transit traffic.

Further information about the fair and conference is available at