The 5GRAIL (5G for future RAILway mobile communication system) project kickoff meeting was held on 27 November. About a dozen speakers and some 79 attendees from UIC, UNIFE, DG CONNECT, railways, industry and universities explored the various aspects of this European project, which will run for two and a half years.
The project consortium comprises 18 partners from 11 European countries.
The main objective of 5GRAIL is to validate the first set of FRMCS specifications (also called FRMCS V1) by developing and testing prototypes of the FRMCS ecosystem for both trackside infrastructure and on-board.
The meeting was opened by Mr Jean-Michel Evanghelou, UIC Head of Telecoms and Signalling and 5GRAIL Project Coordinator. He introduced Mr Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE, who welcomed 5GRAIL as an enabler of digitalisation for efficient railway transport, and explained the main objective of 5GRAIL: enabling market introduction for commercial rollout. Mr François Davenne, Director General of UIC, highlighted the importance of transport digitalisation with 5G as the telecoms backbone for all applications. He welcomed the strong partnership between UIC and its members and stressed the importance of concrete steps to industrialisation.
The perspective of the European Commission was then outlined by Mr Jorge Pereira, Policy Officer at DG CONNECT, Future Connectivity Systems. He presented the Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) 5G trials along EU cross-borders and EU funding for 5G trials along roads, railways and waterways, highlighting the importance of the long-term vision of “5G everywhere”.
Mr Dan Mandoc, Head of FRMCS at UIC, provided an overview of the 5GRAIL project and its objectives. He highlighted aims to reduce specific equipment costs and installation engineering time by combining all train-to-ground communications. This will be achieved by enabling a modular on-board setup based on standardised interfaces and including mainstream 5G components, called TOBA (Telecom On-Board Architecture) in alignment with the sector’s technical vision. The 5GRAIL outcomes are regarded by the railway sector as a key milestone in the global plan leading to FRMCS market readiness for railways in Europe around Q2 of 2025. This is not only a key requirement but – in light of GSM-R obsolescence – is also a key enabler for railway digitalisation.
The eight project work programmes were introduced:
- FRMCS test definition, test results consolidation and specification review;
- TOBA prototype development
- Validation of ETCS (European Train Control Systems), voice, TCMS CCTV/video within TOBA – laboratory tests;
- Validation of data, ETCS, ATO (Automatic Train Operation) and cybersecurity within TOBA – laboratory tests;
- Field implementation and evaluation;
- Rail and road communication system co-existence;
- Dissemination, communication and application;
- Project management coordination.
Finally, the financial and contractual aspects of the project were discussed, along with the organisation of the work, next actions and deliverables.