Mobile Communications for Railways

Mobile Communications for Railways

Mobile communications is becoming a key component in the strategy of railway operators and infrastructure managers, since it has been realized that it can bring significant cost savings and a better operational efficiency, in particular in the 3 following domains :

  • Operation of the transportation system
  • Safety and security
  • Passenger experience

Mobile communications also contribute to the brand image of transport operators and in some cases even add to revenue (Utilities telecom business model).RK Telesystem offers end-to-end 2.5G/4G LTE mobile network infrastructure for railways.It helps railway operators to ensure safety& security, reliable operations and great customer expereince as mentioned in below picture>

A secured, robust, reliable and converged mobile communications network is therefore essential to support different information exchanges,whether man-to-man, man-to-machine or machine-to-machine. This helps transport operators to fulfil their mission while keeping the highest level of global security and increasing passenger satisfaction (through outstanding punctuality and more services).
Rail operators are not only going to compete against each other but also with other means of transportation, such as planes or cars, and in this context offering more comfort and entertainment to passengers is not an option. Amongst the different applications (or « services ») to be carried by the telecom network, one can distinguish two main families with very different constraints and specifications:
Vital Applications related to signalling and control/command of equipment. Such applications require generally a low bandwidth (some 10 to 100 kbps) but a very high degree of availability (at least 99.99%), robustness and liability (typically a packet error rate of 10-3 for an approximately 200 byte packet length). Such performance indicators have equally to be fulfilled under high speed mobility (handover timing when a mobile terminal must change its connexion from one fixed base station to another). These vital applications are typically CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) in case of metros or ETCS (European Train Control System) in case of mainline trains.
Non-vital applications related to Passenger Information, remote maintenance, on-board video surveillance, CCTV for track or platform monitoring, internet access, etc. Such non-vital applications generally require much higher bandwidth (several 10s of Mbits/s in both direction train-to-ground and ground-to-train), together with lesser robustness constraints (a packet error rate of 10-2 for an approximately 1Mbyte packet length).

To reach the necessary safety level Metro line automation projects (driverless metros) demand on-board real time video surveillance to monitor and assess any critical or abnormal situation inside the coaches, alongside the track or platforms.Non vital applications contributing to a better passenger comfort and journey experience such as on board
Internet access (passengers are likely not to accept loosing connection any longer in the coming years), but also video on demand or other entertainment, will probably soon be must-have application in order to attract or retain customers, as well as contributing to a high level of transport companies brand images. Trains (and more specifically high speed trains) are more and more considered as a mobile office by many passengers. A survey for the Swedish national operator found that the train journey is widely considered as an integral part of the working day. At the same time, higher comfort is also a key reason for the shift of passengers from airlines to high speed trains. To keep up with this trend and maintain competition with air travel, mainline railways operators need to enhance passenger experience with high-speed Internet access based services across the complete journey (from hospitality rooms in stations to on-board the train), both for professionals to extend their mobile office to the train and also to other passengers for infotainment.

On board and real time information is also becoming mandatory to train operators: recent delay incidents on some European High Speed lines can testify of passenger dissatisfaction of being stuck for hours without being informed of the situation.
Technology obsolescence – particularly in the telecommunications domain – is coming fast and often not in line with rail system lifecycle.
Preventive maintenance is a more and more common tool used by railways operator to significantly enhance their operational efficiency. By permanently and remotely monitoring the status of key elements of the rolling stock, maintenance actions can be planned in advance upon detection of warning information before the fault becomes an actual problem. Today, the remote monitoring is usually performed using commercial low speed 2G technologies. Such services are driving the huge increase in bandwidth requirement, and consequently a new generation of train-to-ground transmission will soon have to address these needs, while following telecom industry standards with minimum (or no) rail specific adaption in order to avoid costly solution and rapid obsolescence.LTE seems to be the ideal candidate for this next generation of communication that would be able to support such new services, as well as vital applications at the same time. Contact Us today to get our 2.5G/4G LTE Solutions for Railways.

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