AusRAIL, Products & Technology

AusRAIL: Rollingstock communications systems in the new digital era

How Lantech Communications Global’s sub-communication systems offerings are resolving long held challenges for the rail industry.


Devices in rail environments must operate in harsh conditions, and survive severe air pollution, vibration, shock, input voltage ripple and surge.

At the same time, operators are increasingly demanding more sustainable and costefficient solutions to connect all rollingstock sub-communications systems. These include train control and monitoring systems, digital displays and other passenger information systems, CCTV cameras, PA systems, and the passenger Wi-Fi systems that are increasingly becoming a necessity.

Lantech Communications Australia, a joint venture partner of Lantech Global based in Taiwan, provides the networking (switch and router) infrastructure for these subcommunications systems. Lantech’s EN50155 switches solutions are adopted on rollingstock across the world, including the Sydney and Melbourne Metros, as well as the metro in Barcelona, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Helsinki, German operator Deutsche Bahn’s networks and France SNCF rolling stock.

While current conventional train communication networks (TCN) are facing several challenges to improving services, Lantech Communications sales VP, Amanda Lee, tells Rail Express that Lantech is overcoming these.

For example, one of the reasons Lantech’s solution for the Melbourne Metro was chosen over its competitors, according to Lee, is because of Lantech’s superior high frequency power conversion circuits that allow for DC-DC conversion into regulated 54VDC voltages inside the switches themselves for Power over Ethernet (PoE) operation.

“The systems integrators wanted to use our switches, as all these devices are IP based and digitalised, they wanted the switches not only to be able to provide the data communications, but to also have the PoE functionality, which eliminates the need to have additional power for each device, which is more convenient” Lee said.

“Not only do our switches provide the PoE functionality, but Lantech is capable of providing wide range DC-DC conversion technology inside the switches, so we’re able to handle the direct input power. For example, for 24 volts or 110 volts or 72 volts, the switch can boost or step down within the switch system to feed the power over the ethernet and comply with the PoE 802.3at standard.

“Because we can handle the DC-DC conversion and can make it in smaller housing and with much better support, our customers choose us over our competitors. In a train if you need DC-DC conversion which has an IP-54 house rating, which is very costly. We are able to provide it, and this is why our customers choose Lantech.”

Part of the reason for the advanced capabilities of their offerings, aside from inhouse expertise, is that Lantech is extremely flexible said Lee.

“Competitors who may build their protocols based on third party solutions have trouble adapting to project requirements in short time. Whether it’s in Australia or Europe, Asia, requirements for networking infrastructure differ from project to project. Lantech is able to adapt and customise those features to requirements. This is because our switches are fuelled by the Linux platforms.”

Since Lantech began supplying to the rail industry, seven years ago, Lee says they have noticed the industry’s requirements for more ruggedised, more sustainable offerings in hardware as well as software, get tougher.

“Some projects require an inrush current limit to deal with sparks which may harm the switch. That kind of limit can be dealt with a circuit breaker, however, the long-term inrush current could also shorten the switch lifespan.

“Also, because PoE is transmitted by a copper wire, and when you transmit power with copper a surge or EFT can easily be conducted to the copper wire and cause damage to the switch and router system, you need to have some kind of isolation to prevent from happening. We’ve designed all our offerings to be more complicated so that they’re able to effectively fix all the problems encountered with rolling stock network infrastructure.”

Another scope Lantech has developed within the rail train application is an IEEE 61375-2-5 & -3-4 protocol switch able to be used in train control monitoring systems. Other challenges Lee says Lantech is overcoming are those presented by the impending uptake of 5G networks which will need to be capable of 10G – referring to internet speeds of 10 gigabits per second.

Vendors looking to develop the 10G uplink switches are faced with different challenges.

“We are a leader in this kind of solution because we have the most selection in this range. There are very few competitors who offer these 10G uplink switches for on board trains, because you have to put the DC-DC conversion inside the switches and you need to resolve the problem of heat dissipation, Because 10G is so fast, the heat generated is a lot higher, so its very easy to overheat.”

Lee says that Lantech is in a leading position in providing the technology to enable these speeds right now and are receiving enquiries to provide solutions for European projects.

“They want to have sustainable communication systems, future-proofed for the next 20 years down the line, this is that they’re looking for right now. With 5G coming, a lot of devices will need higher bandwidth, so we’re in a leading position with regards to providing these solutions right now,” she said.

The company is undergoing an exciting period, aside from being in a leading position with its offerings, Lantech will soon be launching a new series of routers which integrate a lot of the functionality that covers PoE, LTE, Wi-Fi, VPN, managing switches functions, and mobus gateway.

“We come from a background of switches, so that’s where we have some of the most interesting product ranges for new solutions,” Lee said.

Within these router solutions, Lantech is always adding more and more protocols. One of the latest developments they are adding are Wi-Fi mesh for train applications, allowing faster speeds, smoother reliability and greater wireless coverage.


Visit Lantech at AusRAIL PLUS at Stand 288.