What is GSM-R?
A solution for radio telecommunications for the railway ector, GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communication for Railway), has been developed and is currently being deployed all over Europe. The pecification of this system is maintained by the International Union of Railways (UIC).
GSM-R secures the voice communication between drivers and traffic management centers. GSM-R devices also allow the transfer of data used for signaling ystems (in particular the European Railway Traffic Management System, ERTMS).
Nowadays, 60 000 km of European railway lines are covered by GSM-R, and more than 160 000 km hall be operative by end 2016. More than 40 000 radios (both
voice and data radio for ERTMS) have been installed on-board the trains. Railways have invested billions of euros in GSM-R.
GSM-R is essential because it participates to safe railway operations and is a key element for daily production, in particular in dense urban areas as it allows better and smoother traffic management.
The GSM-R band is adjacent to the GSM band, which has been reframed to allow deployment of 3G and 4G technologies, and is therefore sensitive to disturbances from those technologies. Evidence of an increasing number of interferences was collected in several Member States and tests implemented both by railway operators and infrastructure managers have documented this threat. Moreover, it has been shown that the 3G and 4G-broadband technologies, currently under deployment in Europe, lead to more interference problems with GSM-R than with GSM.
Without coordination between parties, the deployment of 3G and 4G technologies will lead to significant interferences with GSM-R and consequently to the loss
of radio signal, thus creating dangerous ituations for the railway system or affect the traffic regularity. For example, a train driver might be
unable to send information about an unexpected event or warn about a danger (Railway Emergency Call) because of interferences.
Adequate conditions for the coexistence of railway communication devices and public mobile networks (GSM and wideband technologies) have to be established in order to ensure both a safe and uninterrupted train operation in Europe and the good functioning of the public information service.
At the end of 2012, the European Railway Agency (ERA) and the European Commission organised a workshop and agreed to work on a roadmap to solve interference issues. Several groups at EU level have addressed this topic (in particular the ERTMS steering committee, the Railway Interoperability and Safety Committee, and the Radio Spectrum Committee). In addition, DG MOVE and DG CONNECT have set up a discussion group involving all stakeholders concerned (UIC, GSM-R users, authorities, European Conference for European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), GSM Association (GSMA)), which gathers four times per year.
The main objectives of the European roadmap are:
To supervise interference cases in Europe in order to share a common understanding of the situation;
To study the effect of new 3G and 4G technologies and the benefits of currently existing on-board olutions (built-in filter and/or external filter);
CER factsheet – Interference in railway telecommunications
To specify a new European improved radio module tolerant to interference together with adequate coexistence values;
To assess the costs and benefits of on-board olutions and to obtain funding.
Coordination at European level is essential to understand, share and solve the interference issue, in particular when a new public radio ervice is deployed. The introduction of any new radio service or of new radio standards has to take into account the potential impact on already active radio and non- radio services and equipment. To assure the coexistence of all activity sectors, coexistence values are needed as well as a binding coordination process.
‘interference-free’ devices (filters and improved radio module) need to be harmonized and published as soon as possible to allow, in the future, the safe use of GSM-R, and to possibly adapt coexistence values.
New technical devices are being developed to improve the situation and to reduce the interference issue onboard the trains. So-called ‘interference filters’ and new generation radio modules might soon be ready to be deployed. That alone will not be sufficient to cope with the issue, and solutions from the public mobile networks’
ector are equally important.
regulatory measures must be considered at European level as they are also crucial for the operation of all radio and non-radio devices.
A future-proof safe solution to the interference issue is needed. Improved standards and a financial agreement must be part of this solution. Actions at European level must be undertaken in order to assure the coexistence of all industry sectors:
Definition of coexistence values allowing the pecification of interference-free devices;
Proposal for a financial compensation agreement in order to allow Railway Operators to renew or improve existing devices, or to replace existing non-immune radios by immune devices as soon as possible.
In order to facilitate the deployment of these new devices, migration plan and proper financial compensation scheme to solve the interference issue without additional investments by railway operators should be put in place. This compensation should cover the renewal or improvement of already deployed radio systems as well as the installation of new filters.
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