GSM-R Systems of European Railways

GSM-R Systems are going to gradually replace the current analogue Train-to-Surface Radio telecommunications network (RST).

GSM-R complies with the regulatory requirements for interoperability between countries. It also serves as a support for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), a single system that will manage the safety, signalling and supervision of railway transport in Europe.

The GSM-R system, which is specific to the railway sector, offers the following benefits:

Point-to-point voice calls and short messaging systems (SMS);
ASCI (Advanced Speech Call Item) features allowing emergency calls and group calls;
Direct communication with a train driver by dialling his train number (functional numbering);
Teams can contact their regulator directly based on their geographical location (location dependent addressing);
Controlling calls within groups of railway users (access matrices).

Advantages of GSM-R

GSM-R offers the railway sector a unique platform for its radio communication systems requirements. It allows unlimited digital voice and data connections over the 15,000 km of main track.

The GSM-R network will integrate packet data transmission (GPRS) and will allow on-board access to all sorts of applications and services such as:

Resource management,
Intranet-access to databases,
Timetables and the pricing system,
Automatic reservation systems,
Ticketing systems,
Freight management via telecommunications applications.

For the majority of European railways, and therefore for their clients, the introduction of GSM-R will mean reductions in costs:

Operating costs;
Maintenance costs (reduce the stock of training and spare parts);
Investment costs (standardised equipment).

All of these changes will help improve the performance of railway companies, make them more competitive, and help them win market share in the railway sector.

A system for all of Europe

In June 2000, 17 railway networks signed an agreement to introduce GSM-R over the high-speed Trans-European network in order to allow the interoperability of communication systems and rolling stock from one country to another. To date, most of the railway networks in Europe, as well as Switzerland and several Eastern countries, have opted for the rapid deployment of GSM-R over the whole of their network.

Schedule for GSM-R implementation

After a testing the system on a pilot line between Paris and Bar le Duc, GSM-R is currently being rolled out across the whole of the French network.

2003-2004 Launch of the French project
2004-2014 Progressive deployment in stages over the national network
2014 Target date for replacing all RST

GSM-R, a support for the ERTMS

The ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) is intended to replace the several existing railway signalling systems that are currently in use across Europe. GSM-R serves as a radio support for the applications of the ETCS (European Train Control System), the unified control system for trains in Europe.

Deployment of GSM-R is needed before we can install ERTMS Level 2, which will be used for all new high speed lines in France.

Find out more about the European Rail Traffic Management System:

The GSM-R Public Private Partnership

Following an inter-ministerial decision in October 2005, the project to implement the GSM-R network must take the form of a Public Private Partnership (PPP). This sort of partnership contract is a way of enlisting a private partner to be in charge of the funding, design, execution, support, maintenance or operation of a project.

For Réseau Ferré de France, using a PPP is a way of speeding up the deployment of the GSM-R network and will provide the best possible funding for the project. We are therefore in the process of preparing to launch the procedure for the partnership contract.

The notification of a call for applications was sent to the Official Journal of the European Union on 14 December 2006. Réseau Ferré de France selected the four candidate groups allowed to participate in the dialogue and to present an initial bid in December 2007.

In 2010, Réseau Ferré de France signed a public-private partnership contract with SYNERAIL on the construction and running (for 15 years) of a railway telecommunications network that will be gradually deployed until 2015 over 14,000 km of track.


Source : RFF

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