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 >


Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provi... more >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey’s commercial account director, Anna Delvecchio, for her insight into what the Rail Sector Deal means for the rail industry and its supply chain. Anna started her career as an apprentice at the age o... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

20/06/2019Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

RTM talks exclusively to one of the rising stars of the industry and Transport’s Woman of the Year 2018, Anna Delvecchio. Amey’s... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >