The UIC “Future Railways Telecommunication Systems” workshop took place in Vienna on 1 December 2011. It included around 50 registered participants - UIC members, including representatives of JR East, and representatives of the GSM-R Industry Group, Kapsch Carrier Comm, Nokia Siemens Networks, Sagem Comm, Selex, Siemens Mobility, Alcatel Lucent, Huawei Technologies and Mitsubishi Electric R&D Centre Europe.
The workshop ties in with UIC activities launched in 2009, when it was assumed that GSM and thus GSM-R were approaching their End-of-Life (EoL) after official notification given at the time by Nortel Networks of the arrival of new technologies for wireless broadband, namely Long Term Evolution (LTE). Together with DB Systel, UIC drafted a technical report published in September 2009 before launching a project in 2010.
In the course of the project it became evident that answers to issues such as LTE support for voice applications, GSM EoL, LTE longevity and LTE mobility behaviour in high speed conditions would be difficult to find. Consequently, as a first step UIC released the User Requirement Specifications agreed on by the ERIG, a document used as basis for discussions with suppliers and other organisations on introspection for the GSM-R inheritor. By December 2010 the conclusion was that the overall context and LTE maturity made such a decision premature.
This does not mean that work is finished; it is ongoing as the assumption is that decisions will be required in the short term – some 4 years.
If the current trend persists, the issue is whether clouding QoS, security and intrusion need to be defined and whether a technology needs to be selected.
The speakers in the meeting presented the latest technological developments, especially trackside but also on-board, and several solutions that would suit railway needs. Mitsubishi Electric R&D Centre Europe showed the results of CCTV simulation at 300 km/h.
In the user session discussions were held on different approaches, including SBB’s opinion on a faster decision moment.
UIC will respond to this demand by including future railway telecommunication systems as one of its main activities within the GSM-R Core Project as of 2012 and for the years to come. Work will focus on technological approaches, partnership with ETSI, and discussions with PMR world and UITP. European authorities will be continuously informed and, when necessary, involved in this work, where decisions and action are needed at European level as they were in the 90s.