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Battery powered bus from Sileo GmbH.

While it is true that Innotrans is advertised as a railway exhibition and trade show, there are some non-railroad products at the show as well, as operators of railroad equipment may also be interested in these products.

No diesel powered buses of any sort are part of the displays (many are operating services to and around the show), but there are five battery powered buses as well as several variations of charging apparatus that are part of the show displays.

Battery bus used in Hochbahn service in Hamberg.

Hamberg is one of several cities in Europe using battery powered buses, and in fact in the case of Hamberg their goal is to move completely to battery powered buses by 2020. One of the Hochbahn buses being used in this service is on display.

Sileo battery bus makes a loop around the Summer Garden section of the grounds.

Two of the buses are full scale articulated buses. One of the representatives from battery bus maker Sileo says they guarantee in their literature a distance of 230 km (143 miles) per charge, but in reality they typically get closer to 300 km (186 miles).

The battery buses are operating an occasional very slow loop around the Summer Garden area of the show, and they are all very eerily quiet. One can drive right past only inches away and you don’t know that it is there.

Alstom LINT regional train adapted to have a hydrogen fuel cell power system.

Efforts at making things quiet, zero emissions and otherwise eliminating traditional combustion powered engines is also going on with the railway equipment that is being shown as well, but none of it has enough space at the show to actually operate.

The above example is a hydrogen fuel cell powered version of the Alstom Coradia Lint regional train. They are calling this the iLint. It will begin service on regional trains in northern Germany after the show is over. Equipped with a restroom and commuter style seating, the car will operate in services of distances similar to Sounder.

Other pieces of equipment at the show that illustrate the extensive efforts at moving away from diesel engines include a regional freight locomotive from the Austrian Federal Railway that was upgraded to include off-wire battery packs. Passenger locomotives can’t be too far behind if freight equipment is already being built with this capability.

Austrian Federal Railways electric locomotive adapted to have battery powered off-wire capability.

Noise along railway lines, however, isn’t just caused by diesel engines. Streetcar and other urban systems suffer from wheel on rail noise transmitted through the concrete into which the rails are set.

Cross section of street railway with BRENS system of noise and water absorption, as well as a demonstration wall made from the material.

Prokop Rail of the Czech Republic has developed their BRENS system of sound deadening cushions specifically aimed at noise reduction and runoff water control for street railways or other situations where railway lines might otherwise be encased in concrete. Their system includes panels made from repurposed old automotive upholstery. These panels may have either artificial turf on top, or have an assortment of small plants such as sedum sewn into the material so that a natural top layer is formed. It is intended for use on lines with speeds up to 160 km/hr (100 mph).

Other products at the show to help make operations more quiet include various makers of transparent noise walls made from plexiglass or similar materials that are intended to block the noise but allow light to pass through. Several other non-transparent noise wall products were at the show as well, but everyone knows what noise walls look like.

There are many things that I don’t have enough time or space to cover. For example, a non-catenary light rail car for the Dubai Metro is also at the show. However, the products listed above are the ones that stand out to me as far as serving as an interesting step forward in the area of making things run quieter and cleaner.


Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”) is a member of the engineering staff of a small Portland based manufacturer of electrical equipment for railroad passenger cars.

7 Replies to “Innotrans Day 4: Hushing Things Up”

    1. That article makes it extremely difficult to determine what they have proposed.

      Siemens should probably pay to ship a few TriMet cars north and equip them with 1,500 static converters so SoundTransit can experiment with a few different seat arrangements that are on the assorted TriMet cars.

      TriMet should be able to spare a few cars. The spares ratio is quite a bit higher than SoundTransit last I checked.

  1. I wonder how well battery powered buses handle hills? I don’t know Hamburg, so I don’t know how hilly it is, but 150 miles per charge sounds pretty good. You might be able to supplement our trolley system with battery buses. Given our relatively cheap electricity, and I assume lower maintenance costs, I think that would make a lot of sense. If the batteries can be charged up relatively quickly, then you could simply recharge at the layover spot (that would require some infrastructure work, but nothing like running wire). If not, then at a minimum you could charge up your rush hour buses.

    This could also make it easier to add service to some areas (to overcome local opposition). For example, some have talked about re-routing the 8 so that instead of going on Denny, it cuts over to Lakeview and Belmont (to the Summit neighborhood of Capitol Hill). This means running up a relatively steep hill, which means either adding wire, or hearing neighbors complain. But with a battery powered bus, maybe this isn’t an issue.

    1. One of the bus makers at the show is from Minsk, Russia. I asked them about charging from the trolley bus network, since their company also does trolley buses. Right now, the power electronics for high speed charging isn’t there yet. Apparently it still needs to see the AC sine wave for some timing functions or some such.

      They will probably get there though. There’s too much trolley bus wire in the former USSR for it to be passed up completely.

    2. “some have talked about re-routing the 8 so that instead of going on Denny, it cuts over to Lakeview and Belmont”

      Metro’s LRP has both. The main RapidRide is still on Denny (15th Ave W-Mercer-Harrison-Terry-Denny-John-Madison to Mad Park), but there are two Local routes on Lakeview Blvd. One comes from Magnolia and the other from 6th Ave W, then they combine on Harrison-Yale-Belmont-Aloha-23rd to John. That means 15-minute service in the east, 30-minute in the west.

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