Monday 3 June 2024

Insights from the Amman workshop on FRMCS implementation in the Middle East

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On 29 May 2024, a crucial workshop on the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) initiative was held in Amman, Jordan, bringing together key stakeholders from the Middle Eastern railway sector. This workshop, organised by UIC, provided a platform to discuss the developments in and prospects of implementing FRMCS in the region.

One of the workshop’s highlights was the clear interest in setting up FRMCS pilot tests in the Middle East. Several participants expressed their willingness to test the new railway communication technology through pilot projects in order to better understand its benefits and challenges.

Among the interested members of the Regional Assembly for Middle East (RAME), it was decided that the right framework had to be defined to provide further details and clarification on several crucial aspects of FRMCS, such as:

  • FRMCS functionalities and added value
    It is essential to better understand the specific functionalities and advantages that FRMCS can offer compared to existing technologies like GSM-R, especially given that the deadline for GSM-R’s planned obsolescence is tight.
  • Scenarios for new lines
    With several new railway lines planned to open in the next 3-4 years, it is crucial to define the effective conditions and scenarios for an evolution to FRMCS, as a transition from GSM-R is technologically disruptive.
  • Possible uses of FRMCS functionalities on 4G networks
    The UIC “FRMCS-Transition” specifications, including a specific application of the FRMCS 5G architecture to 4G infrastructures, is currently under development.
  • Investment planning
    Implementing FRMCS requires significant investment. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the corresponding investment plans, for passive and active infrastructure, as well as for on-board equipment.

The workshop highlighted the critical need for and interest in implementing FRMCS in the Middle East. By establishing a robust framework that will allow pilot projects to be launched, the Middle Eastern railway sector can take significant steps toward adopting this advanced communication system.

FRMCS, with its enhanced functionalities and capacities, will be a game changer, as it will drive digital transformation and improve the efficiency and safety of railway operations across the region.

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