Rail Industry Focus


Towards railway-specific, bearer-independent communication

Source: Advertisement feature

Freelance transport journalist Lesley Brown looks towards railway-specific, bearer independent communication. 

Today, GSM-R is a well-established technology for carrying voice and data for operations across most railway networks in Europe, as well as many others worldwide. Yet given advances in telecoms and the emergence of needs such as ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) requirements, obsolescence is looming for this 20-year-old standard, particularly in terms of spectrum and capacity.

Different groups are already working to define the future IP-based telecom system for the railways, the so-called Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), under the umbrella of the EU and International Union of Railways (UIC). Nevertheless, migration from the current GSM-R system to its next generation successor is not expected to start before 2028 at the earliest.

But, a current solution for networks needing to upgrade their systems is the ‘bearer independent’ approach to communications, whereby the technical transmission technology (bearer) is separated from railway functional elements (applications).

Who benefits and how?

“By switching to shared networks and non-rail specific bearers, rail operators can use communications networks other than GSM-R, such as GSM, or UMTS for instance, plus those coming in the future,” said Markus Myslivec, head of public transport solutions at Frequentis. “This means greater flexibility in following the technological evolution of such networks, as well as less dependency on one specific communication bearer.”

A first for Finland

In June 2016, the FTA gave Frequentis the ok to implement URCA (Unified Railway Communication and Application), generally considered the first bearer-independent communication solution for rail in Europe. “All the equipment is now installed and roll-out should be completed by the end of 2018,” said Myslivec. “Then the GSM-R will be switched off.”

The FTA had several drivers behind this technology shift. The commercial mobile networks had started to interfere with RAILI, the Finnish GSM-R system, due to increased usage of 3G and 4G broadband radio technologies. In the worst affected areas this led to train drivers, shunting leaders, track maintenance leaders, and traffic control being completely cut off from each other. Secondly, the current GSM-R network equipment was nearing the end of its life cycle.

The end-to-end solution, based on the Frequentis fixed terminal, rail communication system FTS 3020, uses Viranomaisradioverkko (VIRVE), the Finnish authorities' telecommunications network based on TETRA, as well as public mobile networks. It will provide an entirely new set of options beyond GSM-R. The contract further includes voice recording and apps for public mobile phones – overall, ninety fixed working positions will be deployed.

“[This roll-out of URCA] will enable us to significantly reduce our communications costs,” said Markku Voutilainen, senior inspector & project manager, Railway Communications, FTA. “Instead of spending time and money on renewing our own radio network, limited to railway communications, we can concentrate on solutions and applications.”

You can meet Frequentis at Innotrans 2018 in Berlin, Hall 4.1, stand 315.


W: www.frequentis.com/public-transport

Tw: twitter.com/Frequentis

F: www.facebook.com/Frequentis/

Linked-in www.linkedin.com/company/15158/


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

View all News

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Year with brand-new infrastructrure to... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, C... more > more last word articles >


Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

29/08/2018Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

RTM’s Jack Donnelly sat down with one of the leading minds behind Network Rail’s mo... more >

'the sleepers' daily blog

The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

18/09/2018The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

RTM's Jack Donnelly assesses what the Transport Committee's latest report on the VTEC franchise means for the industry as a whole “Even now, there is no concrete plan, nor timescales, for the interim operator of this franchise. From our inquiry, we cannot be sure, and cannot reassure passengers or public, that the arrangements ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

18/09/2018Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be transformational for the north – it will change the way people live, work, and play. It will rebalan... more >
Innovation through people and technology

18/09/2018Innovation through people and technology

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways and director of railway safety at the ORR, picks out the key industry challenges to focus on based on... more >
Why we all must mind the gap

18/09/2018Why we all must mind the gap

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), explains how we can all ensure the UK’s next generation... more >
3D printing: from virtual to real

11/09/20183D printing: from virtual to real

Like so many other technological advancements, 3D printing has moved from being the stuff of science fiction, through niche industrial applicatio... more >