Enhanced positioning and accurate  timing for rail operations through GPS and GNSS

Written by 

Antonio Sequiera

Market Manager Railway

In the fast-paced world of rail transportation, precision and efficiency are essential. If operators are to ensure reliable train control and establish greener, energy-saving operations, they must be able to rely on solutions capable of providing accurate location data. This can then be used to determine a train’s position on track and enable reliable timing synchronisations for a number of crucial applications.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) functionality plays a crucial role in providing reliable and precise timing information to facilitate optimal scheduling and energy efficient operations no matter the location of a service. Through precise data comes accurate localisation, tracking and speed control, all of which can be used to offer a safer, more reliable service to commuters. Using solutions which incorporate GPS or GNSS gives operators the means to achieve these goals. For instance, GPS/GNSS rail antennas can quickly transmit this information to control centers, where operators can map out exactly where trains are and the speeds they are travelling at along the track.


The data is also vital for communications-based train control (CBTC) and the European Train Control System (ETCS), a digital train control system used in train control systems across the continent. When underpinned by reliable connectivity, this will lead to minimal disruption to ongoing services. With this system, operators have the capacity to take reactive measures should a train break down or malfunction. This information can then be conveyed to commuters through passenger information systems (PIS) within the station, keep them updated on the status and current location of their train.



Speed of data transmission is critical for rail systems. To this end HUBER+SUHNER offers its customers a range of cables, cable assemblies and antennas to ensure the transfer of information in almost real-time. Both the RADOX® RF and SPUMA cable range have been designed to suit the needs of the railway industry, offering low signal loss and fast communications. All cables are rigorously tested and validated to ensure compliance with industry standards such as EN45 545 for European rail networks and NFPA130 in the United States. These cables are suitable for both antennas as well as being part of a trackside solution.


The SENCITY® Rail antenna portfolio has GPS/GNSS functionality to provide reliable transmissions while meeting the special requirements of railway applications, including high current and high voltage protection. Implementing these on trains can help establish consistent connectivity, communicating with trackside structures found by the track that hosts multiple GPS/GNSS receivers throughout the train’s journey.


Through rooftop train antennas, alongside components found at trackside, rail systems can benefit from increased positioning capabilities.