Railway telecommunication networks have assumed an increasingly prominent role over the past decade. Reliable and cost-effective data communication has become essential to all important railway operations and services.
It is important to understand that the business case for railway telecommunications is not based on the telecommunications in itself; the business case is rail transport, and telecommunication services provide crucial support to railway operations.
The systems and equipment in question are mostly off-the-shelf products; in a few cases they are modified off-the-shelf products (e.g. GSM-R) while for some very typical functions, e.g. dispatcher communications, specific equipment (in this case dispatcher terminals) is required to provide critical communication support.
Technology and equipment is procured from the public market and is therefore subject to its trends. Accordingly, in a context where worldwide telecommunication systems are converging towards IP, railway systems are no exception.
There are understandable concerns voiced by traffic management and signalling experts as to the reliability of such an IP infrastructure in the field of safety relevant applications, considered in telecom terms as “mission critical”.
For all the above reasons, UIC released a first edition of the IP Introduction to Railways Guideline in March 2012, addressing the challenges and the opportunities when introducing IP; and providing a set of guidelines, all based on the experience of the UIC Panel of Telecom Experts (PETER).
At that time, a second edition and its target was announced together with the release of the first edition.
The UIC Panel of Telecom Experts met from 22 – 23 January 2013, and decided on the content and the roadmap of the second edition of the IP Introduction to Railways Guideline: the document is foreseen to be finalised by the end of September 2013.
The document will be restructured, revisited, and intends to focus on the following subjects:
- Signalling requirements for IP MPLS systems
- Assessment of IP MPLS networks a Category 2 Network according to 50159 requirements
- Safety & Security aspects in railway applications & safety related requirements
- Risk analysis
- Test scenarios for IP MPLS Networks
- Authorisation to bring into operation IP MPLS critical communication networks
- International communication
- Related Normative and Standards
- Organisational security
The next PETER meeting will take place on 4 and 5 April 2013.