The €13m, 30-month project is funded by the Horizon 2020 initiative and is split into eight work packages. The work will cover both trackside infrastructure and onboard applications. It will be based on the International Union of Railways’ (UIC) Version 1 of the Function and System Requirement (including the Interfaces) Specifications, and on 5G (3GPP Release 16) technology. 

The UIC is acting as the project coordinator working alongside:  

  • European Rail Industry Association (Unife) representing the European rail supply sector  
  • European railway infrastructure managers: DB Networks, SNCF Network, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), Portugal Infrastructure, and  
  • European suppliers: Nokia, Kontron, Alstom, Thales, Siemens, CAF and Teleste.  

5GRail is also set to cooperate with industry regulatory and standardisation bodies, in particular the European Union Agency for Railways and Shift2Rail. 

The UIC is aiming to deliver an FRMCS first edition based on 5G (3GPP Release 17) in 2025, which will be available for railways to begin national pilots. 

The 5Grail prototypes will be tested both in laboratories and live track conditions. They will support ETCS, voice group calls and railway emergency calls. Studies will also take place of cross-border operation and integration with road networks. 

“Enabling railway networks to benefit from 5G technology is a fundamental aspect of the sector’s transformation strategy conducted by both the operators and the suppliers with the support of the European Commission,” says Mr François Davenne, UIC director general.  

“For UIC which has piloted the development of 5G use cases and specifications with the support of its members, the financing by DG Connect of the initial demonstrators is a symbol of maturity for the sector. Together, we will make high-speed radio transmission a real part of railway operations to allow for new applications, increased safety, and above all greater customer satisfaction.” 

“This project bringing together European railways and rail suppliers will help pave the way towards the future communication system and, as such, significantly contribute to achieving the benefits of the railway game- changers,” says Mr Philippe Citroën, director general of Unife. “It will also leverage the results and findings from Shift2Rail. 5GRAIL and Shift2Rail-2 will also translate them into deployable commercial solutions demonstrating the benefits of strong EU research work.”