In a special interview, UIC Head of Telecoms & Signalling Jean-Michel Evanghelou spoke about the topic of “One European System.”
“With 5G, rail operators have an opportunity to modernise aging railway infrastructures.”
Jean Michel Evanghelou explained in the form of an interview what the latest developments are in FMRCS and how UIC is working on the future 5G communications system.
“There are two important aspects to understand: it is an obligation to evolve the railway radio networks on the one hand because of GSM-R obsolescence, and on the other hand, it is a way to enabling digitalisation. Changing to 5G will provide a lot of new possibilities, in terms of capacity, applications, that is why we are opening the possibility of digitalisation.
When you consider that the first networks in Europe using FRMCS will probably start by 2025, and considering the global timing of the telecoms industry, 5G is the sole rational response. This is the reason why FRMCS is definitely based on 5G.
We started GSMR in a serious way in Europe in 2000, which means 20 years ago. And we are still equipping some countries in Europe. There is a significant time cycle in railway infrastructures, it has been quite long to equip the majority of lines in Europe.
Today you have 150,000 km of lines equipped with GSMR, it is impressive, and about more than 200,000 km in the world.
A global programme for FRMCS:
“The FRMCS will be included into the global telecom standard of 5G, defined in 3GPP. This is the outcome of the specifications written by UIC on behalf of railway companies, UIC being active in 3GPP in order to obtain a worldwide standard.
From the product perspective, we recently had some very good news: we were capable of putting together a global programme for prototyping FRMCS with all the relevant suppliers and railways. It will be done under the global European programme called Horizon 2020, and under the DG CONNECT 5G strategy, wish oversees telecoms evolution for the European Commission. This major financing programme is named 5G Rail. Within the next 30 months, we will start to prototype and to test the specifications that we have put together with all the key suppliers and railways. It will be the first time, at the end of this process, that we will have live trials with the full FRMCS ecosystem, including real products and applications, such as the signalling application, ETCS.
GSM-R has been a real success, because it has been adopted by all countries, and today we have a full interoperable system in Europe. We have the ambition to do the same for FRMCS, and we should be capable of being successful.
To guarantee this success, we need the whole railway sector to be supportive of a common concept, and this is precisely the case here.”
Mr Evanghelou gave his vision of the use of satellite, after an audience question:
“Regarding satellites, for safety reasons, for security reasons and for cost reasons, it is not obvious that all satellite telecommunications can provide the same possibilities and the same essential quality of service than a dedicated terrestrial telecom network.
However, satellites can be a good addition, in some cases, this is why in some ERTMS evolution possibilities we can consider the use of spatial communications.
To conclude, 5G is absolutely the mainline, satellite could a form a second line.”
The UIC FRMCS video is available here: https://uic.org/videos/what-is-frmcs-the-future-railway-mobile-communication-system