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|The Horber Schienen-Tage event ...|
... has been around for thirty years now, and during this time, the organisers have accounted for the increasing importance of European and global topics. It is a comprehensive, specialist symposium for the German-speaking countries, seen as a part of Europe. The railway in Germany is not a stand-alone organisation, but integrated into a continental traffic system. This is why challenges related to the European unification and globalisation issues are up for discussion again and again.
Right from the start, this was featured by speakers from Switzerland, in many aspects considered as a model country for railway traffic. Be it the half-price pass, in Germany known as BahnCard, the regular interval service or the planning methods, the Swiss experience provided food for thought. Preceded by the BahnCard, the regular interval service has also become an integral part of German railway traffic. However, the decision-makers are still reluctant with the idea of analysing the traffic requirements first and then deriving the necessary construction measures from the results. The abridged phrase "think first and then build" reflects a claim which is not received enthusiastically in a country that takes pride in large-scale engineering projects. This will give rise to more controversial discussions in the future as well. But with ever-narrowing margins, one may expect that economic considerations will gain more ground.
Switzerland has not remained the only partner country. Participants and speakers not only came from Austria, but from almost all other neighbouring countries of Germany, not only from the German-speaking ones. For example, the organisers could welcome speakers from Poland, the Netherlands and from France. 2006 was the first year to see a bilingual workshop; it focussed on the infrastructure in France.
The European unification is gaining importance, be it about the legal framework, e.g. the passenger rights, or the technical alignment of the regulatory schemes. In 2001 and 2002, contributions by the EU Commission covered the topics of passenger rights and competition. The agenda also featured technical regulations for interoperability several times.
Railways from all over the world is another topic which has increasingly come to the fore. The reasons for this are varied:
Our little jubilee, three decades of Horber Schienen-Tage, offered a good occasion to not only take a look over the fence, but also step outside. A geographical specialist excursion to Tunisia in february 2013, focussing on traffic aspects, offered an exciting topic and a variety of possibilities to back up theoretical knowledge with practical experience.