Delivering this level of connectivity to a train travelling at more than 300km/h in both rural and built up locations is by no means an easy task. However, it is critical that operators and infrastructure managers succeed

The result is a gradual shift away from traditional Wi-Fi and 2G GSM-R telecoms networks that have sustained railway communications for the past two decades. These technologies are steadily becoming obsolete and are now simply unable to handle the demands for bandwidth and data required by a 21st century railway.

LTE-R solutions improve connectivity

Huawei’s answer to this conundrum is its next-generation LTE-R solution. Launched in mid-2019, LTE-R is a digital wireless communication system optimised for railways and has been widely deployed in China. The technology supports a 5G-oriented evolution and interconnectivity with GSM-R, which is likely to remain on many networks up to 2030. Its advanced features include multiple trunking services such as Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) voice, and data.

The system is highly scalable and flexible, leveraging a single LTE-R network to support train control, train dispatching, passenger information system (PIS), CCTV, and other rail services. Together with 5G, the solution will enable a future of intelligent railways where all things are connected.

Huawei is also active in the 5G space. Its 5G Digital Indoor System (DIS) lays the foundation for smart transportation hubs by offering intelligent communications services for a large number of passenger services. For example, the system supports smooth and efficient passenger flow management, security checks, and ticketing services.

Boosting services with Urban Rail Light Cloud

In addition, Huawei’s Urban Rail Light Cloud solution is particularly beneficial to operators of low to medium-capacity networks such as light rail, monorail, and maglev networks. The system converts computing, storage, network, and security resources from physical devices into virtual resource pools. These resources are then allocated to application systems through virtual hosts, virtual network devices, and virtual security devices. The system facilitates the integration of data centre devices while helping to lower device procurement and deployment costs. The system is also suitable for a single suite of urban rail cloud services (ISCS/TIAS, ACC/MLC convergence centre, and road network application cloud), and supports smooth expansion to converged clouds and urban rail clouds.

Together LTE-R, 5G DIS and Urban Rail Light Cloud offer a comprehensive solution for a reliable connectivity environment demanded by modern railways. These types of technologies are also gaining wide recognition of their importance to the future of the sector. For example, UITP secretary general, Mohamed Mezghani, said at the Huawei Global Railway Summit held on June 10, 2019, that “high quality public transport needs a double priority: both physical and digital infrastructure.”

Success shared in the ecosystem

Of course, only through real-world deployment is it possible to learn the true benefits of such systems, a point emphasised by Mr Stephen Mellor, chief technical officer of Industrial Internet Consortium, which is working to facilitate such projects with Huawei. “The LTE testbed is an example of partnering between an industry end user and technology provider facilitated by the Industrial Internet Consortium,” he says. “IIC aims to help industry end users at all stages of the project lifecycle.”

Equally, Mr Etienne Saclier d’Arquian, networks product line manager at Thales Ground Transportation Systems, says end-to-end networks and IT orchestration will help public transport operators become key players in offering door-to-door connected journeys by providing the physical services and an attractive and complimentary Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform.

“While masking technical complexity, end-to-end networks and IT orchestration will help them reach this goal by supporting optimized core business activities and delivering the best service experience to their passengers,” he says.

Huawei presented its latest solutions during the Huawei Global Railway Forum 2020 held online last month. To hear more about how you can benefit from communication and connectivity solutions for transport networks, click here.