Innovative technology that promises high-speed internet and phone connectivity on trains can now be tested on a specially designed track.
The "Gigabit Innovation Track" (GINT), a 10-kilometre test track in Germany is dedicated to testing mobile communications for trains and is funded by the German government (BMDV) and spearheaded by Deutsche Bahn (DB), Ericsson, O2 Telefónica, and Vantage Towers.
The research project aims to improve the passenger experience as well as improve internet connectivity for rail transport.
The aims of GINT include testing gigabit rates with a goal of 5Gbps per train by the early 2030s. It will also facilitate testing on new telecommunications masts and radio units and rapid construction techniques which could have the capability to reduce build times to just eight months.
The new radio masts which are to be tested are designed so that they can be used jointly by the railway and mobile communications industries. A pioneering design is already being developed with Vantage Towers designing and erecting thirteen 15-metre high masts which are pre-assembled on the ground, placed on top of each other by using a two-way excavator and then bolted together.
Dr. Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, DB Board member for digitalisation and technology said: "We want our passengers to feel at home on the train, which includes excellent connectivity. GINT proves we can bring high-speed mobile communication to trains and tracks in record time."
The BMDV gave the go-ahead for the research project with its funding in May 2023. From spring 2024, the "advanced TrainLab", a former DB ICE train currently used as a laboratory train, will run on the test track to test the systems, and optimise the configuration. Research results should be available by the end of 2024.
Dr. Volker Wissing, federal minister for digital and transport affairs commented: "This project demonstrates the speed we need for grid expansion. We hope to transfer this knowledge to the rest of the network, offering passengers high-speed internet and phone calls while traveling."