AusRAIL, Signalling & Communications, Technology and IT

Exploring the possibilities of 5G for future railway communications

While some have been aware of FRMCS as the next standard for rail communications, with standards expected to be finalised circa 2022 to 2023 and proof of concepts and trials running from 2020 to 2025, and it is expected that we will see early deployments in Europe from 2025 onwards, the possibilities of how this communications platform and 5G can reshape the railways is now beginning to be understood.

At AusRAIL Live & On Demand, rail communications leader Nokia has been sharing its insights into the future of rail communications technology.

As Rory McDonnell, transportation segment lead for Nokia’s enterprise business in Oceania, explained, while current technologies such as global system for mobile communications- railway (GSM-R) will continue, the next wave of Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) is around the corner.

“GSM-R is a maturing technology but there is a replacement on the horizon in the form of FRMCS and the underlying communications bearer for that will be 5G.”

To enable operators to begin planning how they will make this shift as GSM-R technology is expected to become obsolete from 2030, Nokia has developed a range of localised resources that are available now via the AusRAIL Live & On Demand platform.

“We’ve created content specifically for AusRAIL that is telling the story of the migration of GSM-R to FRMCS, and how this needs to be supported by the underlying fixed telecommunications network and very latest cyber security systems.”

These resources and the team that is available for delegates to connect with not only provide the technological details, but the possibilities of what this new communications platform can do. The broadband and high bandwidth 5G network is expected to enable use cases such as, support of mission critical signalling and voice data, object detection on the track, on-board condition monitoring, trackside condition monitoring, seamless passenger connectivity and real time CCTV feeds from the train to the control room.

“Rail operators in Australia are already aware of this, and what we’re doing now is taking it to a wider railway community beyond those directly involved in wireless communications,” said McDonnell.

In addition, Nokia is able to provide the underlying wired networking capability in the form of IP/MPLS and Optical transport layers as well as being able to provide the cybersecurity expertise to ensure that any future communications system provides for a highly reliable and secure railway.

With the deployment of 5G and Nokia as a partner, the possibilities for the rail sector are increasing efficiency, ensuring safety, and enhancing the customer experience.

“We’re here to talk,” said McDonnell, “to assist the rail operators and those involved in the rail industry as a whole to develop their future communications strategy.”

Rory McDonnell and the rest of the Nokia team are available to connect via the AusRAIL Live & On Demand platform. You can also listen back to McDonnell’s presentation to the Innovation Hub and Karsten Oberle, head of rail, transportation segment at Nokia, presentation’s to the signalling stream once the recorded sessions are uploaded.