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The connected future of urban rail


Urban rail systems can play a key role in reducing traffic congestion and meeting cities’ environmental goals - but a rail system is only effective in meeting these goals if it’s used by the community. To be a successful and integral part of metropolitan life, today’s urban rail systems must  — satisfy commuter expectations of convenience, safety, and reliability. Everything from train operations to security with on-board CCTV requires ultra-fast wireless connectivity with smooth handoffs between access points. That’s why urban rail operators such as the Société du Grand Paris (SGP) are turning to Nokia for a train-to-ground solution that meets their connectivity goals and helps them to expand and enhance their transit system.

Critical applications need reliable connectivity

Wireless networking has a hand in virtually every aspect of modern rail operations: closed-circuit video surveillance, public address systems, door closure monitoring systems, communication-based train controls (CBTC), and more. Many of these require stringent network uptime and the instant transfer of massive amounts of data. Any lag and there could be major consequences.

The implications for passenger satisfaction are just as important to think about: keeping trains on time, pushing out service updates, and ensuring safety and security. At best, poor performance will frustrate riders. At worst, it will have them thinking seriously about finding other ways to get to work.

There’s a place for Wi-Fi in the picture but the truth is mobile broadband technologies such as LTE and 5G are far better suited to meet the full range of operational and commuter demands. They provide low latency and seamless packet transfer at handoffs, with advanced encryption to protect against intrusions and keep rail operations and passenger data safe. Architecturally, mobile technology enables operators to run multiple applications such as CBTC, CCTV, and the like on a single, converged network, reducing complexity and total cost of ownership.

The Nokia train-to-ground solution is access agnostic and leverages LTE private Wireless or Wi-Fi-based systems and in the future 5G networks. The solution increases the performance, reliability, and availability by applying an intelligent, multi-path backhaul approach developed by Nokia Bell Labs to link onboard routers to the operations control center, providing link redundancy and capacity aggregation for bandwidth-intensive applications like CCTV. The single trackside network ensures smooth handovers between access points even at high speeds, so critical operations — from train control to on-board video — are never interrupted.

Enabling the expansion of the Paris Metro

At Nokia, we’re in the process of deploying LTE private wireless to support SGP’s expansion of the Paris Metro — a huge undertaking that includes a new ring route around the city, new lines to connect developing neighborhoods, and the extension of existing lines. In all, more than 200 km of new track will be laid, and 68 stations are going to be affected by the project.

To fully automate the new lines and provide a superior passenger experience, SGP needed an ultra-high bandwidth network with rock-solid security. Our innovative train-to-ground solution will provide indoor and outdoor private LTE service along the entire track and at all stations. It will support operational communications, CCTV, file transfer, and other connectivity requirements.

Train-to-ground communications that are ready for the future

Modular deployment means the Nokia train-to-ground solution can be scaled easily if the Metro expands further in the future. And when the time comes to make the switch to 5G, the 4G LTE system is already set up for the transition.

The world of public transit is evolving rapidly, and the technology to support it has to evolve along with it. At Nokia, we’re committed to making sure urban rail operators have what they need to deliver the best service today and lay the foundations for 5G-supported service tomorrow.

For more details on the solution, download our Train-to-Ground brochure

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #Industry4_0  #DigitalTransformation #Railways  #Automation #privatewireless

Karsten Oberle

About Karsten Oberle

Karsten Oberle received the Dipl.-Ing. (FH) degree in communications engineering from the University of Applied Sciences "Fachhochschule für Technik" Mannheim, Germany, in 1998. In the same year, he joined the Alcatel Research Center in Stuttgart and worked for Bell Labs Research in various positions until 2015.

Karsten acts globally as Head of Rail within Transportation Sales in the Nokia Enterprise TEPS (Transportation, Energy, and Public Sector) Division.

As Head of Rail, he is responsible for expanding Nokia’s business in the Railway Sector with a current focus on the Future of Rail Communication (e.g. FRMCS, 5G), on cybersecurity for railways and IoT & Analytics (Internet of Things) for Railways. This includes building and managing new sales programs, steering of global business development activities, and guiding regional sales and marketing teams on customer engagements.

Tweet me at @KarstenOberle

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