On 10 November 2020, Jean-Michel Evanghelou, UIC Deputy Director of Rail System, Head of Telecom, Signalling and Digital Applications, participated virtually in the Huawei Rail Global Forum 2020. Exploring the theme of “Digital rail – The arrival of better future mobility”, the event aimed to explore new trends and discover fresh new opportunities in the field of rail digitalisation. The panel session grouped together Peng Zhongyang (President of HUAWEI Enterprise BG), Luis Fernando Avila Fuentes (CIO of Ferromex), Wong Chee Seang (Global Transportation Scientist of Huawei Enterprise BG) and Guido Di Pasquale (UIC Deputy Director of Knowledge and Innovation).
This event provided Mr Evanghelou with an opportunity to inform participants about the various rail digitalisation activities undertaken at UIC.
He started by discussing UIC’s missions. He reminded participants that on the one hand, UIC ensures the promotion of rail as a global means of transport through seminars, conferences and its representation in various international bodies. On the other, UIC defines technical specifications for the numerous elements of the railway system on behalf of railway companies – covering infrastructure, rolling stock, signalling, and so on. As such, UIC constitutes rail’s technical platform.
He then presented the six focus areas of the UIC strategic plan, aimed at better serving the whole railway community:
- Environment and sustainable development: rail was certainly the greenest method of transport, and the ambition was to consolidate this position
- Safety and security: key criteria for all train operations
- Freight and intercontinental corridors: the train industry needed to increase its share in the transportation of goods, for economic and environmental reasons
- Railway signalling and telecom: this was at the heart of train operations, where a major part of digitalisation would have to take place
- Standardisation: the role of UIC as a technical platform for the railways
- Research and expertise development: in the general context of UIC’s role as a technical platform
Within these focus areas, he selected four examples of current digital initiatives led by UIC for the railway community:
- Digital modelling
- The introduction of 5G, the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS)
- A new initiative on the application of Artificial Intelligence in railways
- The Digital Platform, introduced two years ago in order to sensitise railways to digitalisation by sharing information and achievements in this domain
All these examples are detailed in the video of the speech (see the link below).
Concerning the introduction of 5G in the Control-Command railway system, he reminded participants that railway signalling was a global system to ensure the control of trains, in terms of speed and authorisation of movement, and included all the technical elements, trackside and on-board, that provided the necessary levels of safety during train journeys. He said: “We are here at the dawn of a major change: the introduction of FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System).
The 5G FRMCS will have the tough task of replacing the very successful GSM-R radio system, which is deployed on 150,000 km of track in Europe and more than 250,000 km in the world and ensures the security and safety of rail signalling on these tracks for trains, their drivers and their passengers every single day.
However, while GSM-R has been very successful, it is being hit by industrial obsolescence on one side and on the other, railway requirements are increasing dramatically.
The train is going digital – with new services such as automated trains, remote monitoring, smart maintenance, etc.
The trains of the future will have greater demands in terms of bandwidth, functionalities and quality of service.
Consequently, a few years ago UIC launched a global programme to define and specify FRMCS with many activities, including full specification, maximum standardisation in 3GPP, strategies for frequency management and migration scenarios.
Because FRMCS will definitely be the enabler for railway Control-Command digitalisation”.
The full speech is available on the UIC YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/e3aWh33_SXA