Supporting the rail industry’s wireless communications

Real Wireless was involved in a cross-industry rail project in 2011 to support the development of rail communications strategy and business-case to satisfy all the stakeholders that rely on rail communications. This means both passengers and railway workers. The work was for the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and we worked in partnership with Mott MacDonald on the T964 research project Operational Communications – a programme of work to develop an effective strategy that supports rail innovation. 

Real Wireless led and supported a number of work packages notably the spectrum position paper (registration required) and also the Technology options paper (registration required). The aim of spectrum position paper was to inform the rail industry of the importance of spectrum and in particular the characteristics of the different frequency bands relevant to mobile use and the impact of the regulatory policy and decisions including frequency allocations and assignments.

The technology options paper highlighted the differences and characteristics of mobile technologies that would be suitable to both operational and passenger applications and services. In particular the paper discusses how future mobile technologies such as LTE may support future data applications in delivering priority operational traffic for the efficient operation of the rail network and also mobile broadband applications for passengers.

It may seem surprising, but one of our findings was that it is not actually too expensive to install mobile equipment on all the carriages of all the trains in the country if it’s done in a coordinated fashion. And that the cost is massively outweighed by the reduction in cost of the necessary trackside infrastructure, given the right use of technology and spectrum.

(Note: we do other work in the transportation industry too – see our thoughts on wireless on planes)

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