Fixed telecommunications as mobile ones have recently experienced a very dynamic phase in the market. Railway business can dramatically benefit from such technological evolution provided that sector needs and strategy are clearly defined.
Railways need fixed telecommunications networks to support a wide range of operational (GSM-R included) and office type applications. Today it is achieved through the use of a number of different, sometimes separate networks. This fragmented picture is the result of traditional telecommunications technologies forming many separate ‘islands’ of network.
Nevertheless, all railway telecommunications networks are currently migrating towards digital transmissions technologies. The challenge is to support increasing communications traffic while reducing the cost of fixed telecommunications and maintaining high reliability and Quality of Service.
A clear path to achieving this vision is to move towards a unified all-Internet Protocol (IP) fixed network. This trend appears irreversible and represents a big opportunity for railway business.
The UIC project “IP Compatibility Study” started in 2011 deals with the analysis of the impact of the IP introduction in Railways Telecom Network. One of the deliverables proposed is the “IP introduction to railways” guideline.
During the 25th meeting of the UIC Panel of Telecom Experts (PETER), held on 22 June 2011 at UIC HQ, the above document structure and concept, prepared by UIC together with REFER Telecom were agreed; the main items for its content were also identified and discussed among participants.
The discussion involved all aspects of the railways’ irreversible migration to this new telecommunications system, including key factors to be taken into account (e.g. operational requirements, strategies, legacy systems support, costs and reliability, etc.).
The ‘IP Guidelines for the Fixed Network’ target readers are experts and also management level (procurement, marketing).
A structured stepwise approach to IP migration will be proposed; it will include main drivers for migration, impacts, benefits, strategies. A non exhaustive set of IP applications, coming from members’ experience and plans will be presented. The approach to follow is to start from railway operational needs, followed by technological solutions, to be integrated in the overall networks. The document, expected to be ready by Q1 2012 at the latest, will also improve the common understanding between experts in terms of harmonised unambiguous terminology used.