Combining train-borne solutions with trackside technologies for reliable connectivity

Written by 

Antonio Sequeira

Market Manager Railway

Train-borne communication is vital to the provision of reliable connectivity for both passengers and staff. Keeping up with demand is a major factor forcing so many operators to undertake modernisation projects that update and enhance their existing communications technologies. 


The rapid development of IP-based, digital broadband communication technologies is now drastically changing the industry landscape and requires a new generation of connectivity components. This includes the way operational data is managed, moving away from conventional data buses which are limited in bandwidth and require equipment specific to a select number of suppliers. 


The need for fast data transmission

Unlike multimedia data, operational data is considered to be more safety-critical, made up of information generated from sensor-controlled elements, such as the brakes, doors, traction control and the air conditioning. Standards such as IEC 61375 are helping to outline conditions for ensuring train network interoperability regardless of the train manufacturer, operator or country of origin, allowing the adoption of vendor-neutral technologies. This underpins any data networks running in parallel on a train, such as a data bus technology network for operational data, or a switched-technology network for multimedia data.


For the bandwidth-demanding applications supported by switched-technology networks, Ethernet is typically preferred to conventional bus networks. This supports multimedia applications integral to operations, such as CCTV and on-board internet services. These require broadband network capabilities - backbones with up to 1Gbit/s and even 10Gbit/s bandwidth are already required. Ethernet-based networks can help deliver high-performance communication infrastructure not limited to broadband connections to the outside world and a gigabit backbone network throughout the train. Inter-vehicle connections are only a small part of the overall network however, with trackside solutions increasingly utilised by operators to provide the operational data to control centres to permit accurate monitoring of the train’s condition and positioning on the rails. Antennas and components found at trackside will communicate with train-borne elements to transmit this information in almost real time.


Solutions for all requirements

HUBER+SUHNER offers a number of fiber optical cables, optimised for fixed or mobile applications. Tested and validated to suit the needs of the railway market - including EN 4545-2 HL3 - our dedicated cables and cable systems can offer a combination of optical, data bus, signal and power cables within a single cable system. Our history and expertise in rail equipment has led to the development of ODC®, Q-ODC® and Q-XCO connectors for improved connectivity both within the carriages and for external communication.


Data can also be transmitted using antennas rather than cables. This means lower installation and maintenance costs, particularly for retrofitting, with less effort required to couple and uncouple a carriage. The same antennas will also be able to communicate with trackside technologies. This ensures operational and conditional data generated by the sensors within the train is provided to where it’s needed most. Antennas found in the SENCITY® Rail portfolio offer space-saving solutions capable of being fitted to the interior and exterior of the carriage using a range of installation methods. Through various connectors available on each antenna, multiple input multiple output (MIMO) technology can achieve higher data rates and greater stability of the wireless network. As the antennas are dust- and water-proofed, they are durable to work effectively in harsh conditions, meaning the communications in-carriage and to trackside will suffer minimal disruption.


Through a combination of on-board and trackside solutions, rail networks can benefit from enhanced, reliable connectivity across all required applications. By aligning the trackside network with the Wi-Fi technologies active within the train, operators are able to provide the best-in-class connectivity so essential to modern rail systems.

Related Products

SENCITY® Rail ACTIVE Rooftop: Railway rooftop omni-directional antenna for Cellular 5G, Wi-Fi 5 and GNSS train-to-ground services. Includes integrated connected compute board, Cellular and Wi-Fi radio modules.

SENCITY® Rail Low Profile: Railway rooftop antenna for 2G/3G/4G/5G cellular and Wi-Fi 6E bands. Extremely low profile (40mm)

SENCITY® Rail ACTIVE In-Carriage: Compact form factor allows easy deployment of Wi-Fi systems on trains, no RF cables required. Contains 2x 3x3 MIMO Wi-Fi 5 radios connected to 6 antenna elements 

SENCITY® Tram Multi

SENCITY® OMNI-SR: Supports 4x4 WiFi MIMO in Wi-Fi 4 / Wi-Fi 6 bands & 4x4 Cellular MIMO in 2.3 / 2.6 / 3.5 GHz bands 

Inter-vehicle Gigabit Jumper Systems


RADOX® Metal Free Multifiber Loose Tube Cables


Q-ODC 12: Fiber optic connector for harsh environment conditions 

600-1000vac Cables