Revolutionising rail networks through trackside technologies

Written by 

Antonio Sequeira

Market Manager

If dependable rail mobility is to be achieved, it is essential that operators are able to use ground-breaking, sustainable solutions that can ensure efficient electrical transmission, high-speed data transfer and autonomous control. New services and products are required to support the increasing digitalisation within the railway industry, be it rail or metro applications.

The ongoing mission of HUBER+SUHNER is to continue leading the current transformation of this sector, providing the tools operators need to enhance their networks and establish trust between themselves and their customers that the service they provide is not only reliable, but also safe. HUBER+SUHNER continue to offer components and solutions that serve to evolve the current rail landscape, from train to trackside to station.

Train-to-Ground Communication

Dedicated Wi-Fi networks are being developed and built to provide reliable broadband wireless networks between trains, stations and along the trackside. Onboard the train, Wi-Fi signals are converted from a rooftop antenna using a communication gateway and distributed as an Ethernet signal. This then links to technologies found along the track, including antennas, radio frequency (RF) cables and cable systems, as well as power splitters and lightning protectors. 

Communication based train control (CBTC) and other digital systems are vital for train-to-ground applications in metros, underground, regional and intercity railways. These are used to condense transportation cycles, increasing track capacity while reducing any significant gaps in service for commuters. The wireless connections required for these systems in regional and intercity trains are generally based on mobile communications technology. To this end, rail network operators require separate GSM-R mobile communication cells along tracks for this purpose. 

Within train-to-ground communications, the global positioning system (GPS) is used by operators to determine the train’s exact positioning when in service and help synchronise timings in applications. This forms an essential part of CBTC systems, as well as passenger information systems (PIS) and other applications requiring data transmission. Accurate positioning can also help reduce breaking distances through real-time updates regarding on-track traffic or potential obstacles that may disrupt a service. Structures on the trackside with multiple GPS receivers will interact with rooftop antennas to provide this information. 

Ground Communication

Trackside technologies also play a crucial role in collecting and transmitting data useful for both stations and control centres. Conditional data can be used by operators to detect and repair trains in the event of a failure and enable a reduction in operational costs through condition-based maintenance. 

The data provided by trackside devices can help provide real-time updates relating to surveillance cameras, PIS and ticketing machines found in stations to establish a safer, more efficient service. This gives staff and commuters a greater understanding of when a train will arrive and how busy the carriages are.

Train-Borne Communication

The combination of a trackside network with on-board Wi-Fi technology provides best-in-class connectivity for those on-board. To achieve this, solutions that enable strong network interoperability regardless of the train’s manufacturer or operator are essential. 

Backbone networks are capable of supporting networks for operational data such as the brakes, doors, and air conditioning, while switched-technology networks are perfect for multi-media data. For on-board internet and other bandwidth-demanding applications, reliable Ethernet connectivity is key, as it allows customers and operators to establish broadband connectivity to the outside world. Trackside components hold the key in enhancing the connectivity solutions found in-carriage.

Supporting a digitalised infrastructure

The SENCITY® Rail portfolio of antennas gives operators the tools they need to overcome the special requirements needed for all elements of their rail network. Antennas such as the SENCITY® Rail ACTIVE Rooftop, SENCITY® Rail and SENCITY® Rail MIMO+ all provide a solution suitable for high current and high voltage applications. Designed for essential digital train control systems, the portfolio establishes reliable connections, whether WLAN, GPS or cellular to ensure rapid and accurate transmission of data from the train or trackside.

For trackside and metro applications requiring high data transfer rates, the SENCITY® SPOT antenna portfolio supports Wi-Fi 6E bands, coming in a range of sizes and types to suit a network operator’s specific needs. Within the tunnel, CBTC SENCITY® Yagi Antennas enable stable communication between train to station and ensure customers and staff are kept informed of important updates. Pre-assembled, ready to connect assemblies, FO cables and cable systems from HUBER+SUHNER also serve the rapid and safe installation of reliable connections on the tracks and within stations. All elements offered by HUBER+SUHNER comply with the latest rail and fire safety regulations, ensuring safe operations no matter where these are deployed.

With systems becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the demands for enhanced passenger comfort, entertainment and information systems skyrocketing, solutions that bind the worlds of communication and railway are essential to operators worldwide. Covering passengers, rail staff and railway operations as well as various aspects of high-speed data communication systems, HUBER+SUHNER offers connectivity solutions to operators meeting their unique requirements with an extensive portfolio of antennas, cables and other innovative solutions.

Want to find out more? Contact us today!

Click here