Fast News

dicembre 4, 2018

Future trends of Telecommunications within the Rail Sector

The telecommunications and rail sector may not seem linked, and yet, they share a lot of common history. They are both over 100 years old and the telecoms revolution actually came about also because of rail. Now, both the telecommunications and rail sector have been experiencing new challenges and opportunities.

💠 Over the last few years, the rail sector has been enriched by the telecoms industry.     

Indeed, since the origins of the railway in the XIX century, most of the innovation efforts have always been focused on aspects regarding traffic management, driving support, and monitoring of the train state. The aim has always been to ensure efficient service under secure and safe conditions.

In order to achieve that, it has been found necessary to establish a communication channel between the mobile elements (e.g. trains, towing or emergency vehicle, etc.) and the ground-fixed elements, such as the command posts and stations, signals, tracks etc. The latest telecommunications technologies have been supporting the rail sector in the few years and have contributed to improve rail service exploitation.

GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway), based on GSM, has been the international wireless communication standard for railway applications. It has been used for voice and data communication and, along with ETCS (European Train Control System), it is a sub-system of ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System).

💠 However, in a world where new telecommunications technologies are developed so fast, GSM-R will be obsolete and it will probably be supplanted by LTE-R (Long-Term Evolution – Railway), which is based on LTE.

LTE is generally referred to as 4G LTE, even though it does not meet the technical criteria of a 4G wireless service, and rail industries have been considering to adopt some 5G technologies, depending on the timing of their upgrade cycle, thus skipping a technological generation.

That is because the innovation process of the railway transport is slow compared to the pace at which new technological advances become available.

👉 As one can imagine, mobile networks, such as 4G networks and 5G networks, seem to be the perfect candidates for future train-to-trackside communications for technological and economic reasons.


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