Every two years, the Innotrans railway technology trade show takes over the huge exhibition grounds of Messe Berlin. Monday of show week is reserved for those moving displays into the show grounds. This includes everything from setting up a hundred or so feet of railroad track to display how maintenance equipment works to full size locomotives and passenger equipment. Due to the placement, some of the equipment must be brought in by truck. While there is track (quite a lot of it, actually) into the show, even the fairly extensive track arrangement is completely filled. Getting it all to work means sometimes trucks are used.
As admission to the show begins tomorrow (Tuesday), I will reserve today to discuss the location of the show and its transit access.
The good news is that the show grounds are well located in terms of having several S-Bahn (suburban train lines) stations around the facility. This means that event attendees are able to attend to show by getting on a number of different lines.
The bad news is that the facility is surrounded on most sides by busy roads. Hence, those arriving from most of these stations face a bit of an obstacle course of semi-stationary road traffic.
However, f you arrive at the single suggested station in the literature (Messe Süd) and take the prescribed staircase, it is possible to go under the busy road on that side of the building on an underpass, so that there is no conflict with stationary or moving road traffic of any sort.
In the above photo, I am standing on the busy road along the south side of Messe Berlin, and the walkway from the Messe Süd S-Bahn station is going under the road at this point. The area to the right that is partitioned off is for those arriving by taxi. However, there are so many taxis that come to the show that the traffic backup from them stretches quite a long way.
I suppose in all fairness, I should also include this photo:
which is where I was standing when taking the previous photo. While I refer to it as a busy road, the fact is that about a third of the width is a nice, wide sidewalk with a small bikeway down the side of it. However, even the bikeway is relatively safe to cross on foot. The problem section for arrivals is definitely the road. The old station exit still requires crossing the road on foot at a signal, but being completely separated from the road is a much better alternative.
While those that put on the event and organize transit for the event have little control over the road situation surrounding the facility, they have done a pretty good job with what they have. The easiest station to get improved access is Messe Süd, and tunneling under the road seems to work well. It means that if attendees want to get to the facility from a number of directions they have to transfer trains and ride one or two stations rather than get off at the station closest on the line they might already be using, but in a test run today it seems much easier and faster to do this than to not transfer and wait for the assorted traffic crossings.
The organizers have also severely encouraged the use of public transit to and from the event. Public transit in Berlin is an open proof of payment system with a simple printed ticket similar to a light rail ticket. When you get your name tag for the event by e-mail, you print out the name badge part of the ticket and this also serves as an all-zone transit ticket valid for whatever days the attendee has purchased admission. You do have to have a valid form of identification to prove that you are the person whose name is printed on the name tag. Other than this, if you have valid admission to the event, you also have valid admission to the entire pubic transit system of Berlin.
Cube Berlin is one of the many buildings that serves as an exhibit hall during the show. In the background it is possible to see the historic and huge radio antenna that has been part of the exhibit grounds since the 1920s. In the background it is also possible to see one of several buses that are operating express airport (both Tegel and Schönefeld) shuttles for the event. Exhibit admission tickets include a bar code that is also used as a transit ticket good for all days and all travel zones during which the event admission price is valid. It also includes transportation on these special event express buses, which provide additional capacity to the airports, the main downtown train station, and a few other areas.
Those wishing to find parking at the event will not be disappointed, unless they happen to be looking for a place to park an automobile of some sort. if they are trying to park a car, then they will definitely be disappointed. For the most part, surface parking looks like this:
With the traffic backup from taxis alone stretching as far as the eye can see, the concept that somehow anyone would attempt to drive their own car here and expect to find parking seems somewhat laughable. Keep in mind, by the way, that this photo was taken on Monday, when the only people around were those moving their exhibit materials into the facility and a number of people, such as myself, taking photos of the moving process. I’ll assume that those who came by bike to set up their display did not bring a full sized piece of rolling stock on the cargo rack.
Another transportation piece: the facility is large enough that the event has several bus routes operating throughout the event grounds. These operate fairly frequently and are a big help in moving people around the facility.
So, let’s see what is actually inside these buildings tomorrow. It is a huge show, scattered over a vast area, and there is no way that one person will be able to see everything that is here. However, I hope to be able to share with you some of the more interesting tidbits I see.
Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”) is part of the engineering staff at a small company in Portland that builds electrical equipment for railroad passenger cars.