While positive train control (PTC) technology has as yet to be fully deployed in the U.S., vendors are moving full steam ahead on trials using LTE networks to support communications-based train control (CBTC) and other services on trains.
Last week, Ericsson announced it had successfully completed trials of LTE networks for railway solutions at simulated speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour, or close to 125 mph, with Canadian transportation company Bombardier. The LTE networks were tested against Bombardier's requirements for latency, packet loss and the ability to prioritize safety-critical applications.
A total of 11 tests were conducted in a laboratory in Kista, Sweden, to determine the ability of the LTE networks to support CBTC and multiservice solutions, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), voice, platform information, advertising and Wi-Fi for passengers.
CBTC uses high-resolution location determination and high-capacity data communications to support automatic train protection, operation and supervision functions. With more accurate information about the exact positions of trains, operators can manage traffic in a more efficient and safe manner.
In the CBTC tests, the LTE networks achieved uplink and downlink latencies far below the threshold of 100 milliseconds and packet losses approaching zero (anything less than 0.5 percent was considered a pass mark), according to Ericsson. Quality of Service capabilities built into Ericsson's equipment also allowed for the preemption and prioritization of mission-critical railway services.
"The results of the tests performed to date are very promising and we will continue to test a variety of modems to ensure we can provide robust LTE networks for rail applications,” said Charlotta Sund, head of Customer Group Industry & Society at Ericsson, in a press release. “We aim to develop solutions that ensure enhanced rail safety through communications-based train control and CCTV, as well as enhanced entertainment for passengers through services such as voice, platform information, advertising and Wi-Fi."
Ericsson said future LTE communications-based train control systems will enable train operators to manage traffic in a more efficient and safe manner
Last year, Huawei and Alstom completed what was described as the world’s first live pilot tests of LTE multi-services based on CBTC. That pilot was carried out at metro lines near the Valenciennes commune area in France with Huawei optimizing the network planning, broadband data services and mission critical voice trunking services, and Alstom providing the technology integration support. During the pilot, Huawei and Alstom jointly conducted several tests, including laboratory and static test on trains, dynamic test on metro tracks and testing of eLTE multi-services capabilities.
Huawei's eLTE technology has been used in a number of railway applications around the world, including the first metro line in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, where the system incorporates passenger information and CCTV.
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