10 January 2018

Improved Digital Rail Transport Communications Affect Passenger and Freight Train Traffic Alike  

Government Call for Evidence and Route Forward Prompts Study for Discussion

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Shipping News Feature UK – A research project to support improved digital connectivity for customers commissioned by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), on behalf of its Future Communications and Positioning Systems Advisory Group, has prompted a report from the German headquartered group LS telcom via its London based subsidiary, looking at improving cross-industry involvement on the implementation of digital connectivity across the entire UK rail network. The research study proposes a 3 to 5-year technology roadmap, and identifies commercial deployment models for improving high-speed mobile internet connectivity for passengers, as well as passenger and freight train operations.

According to the study, wireless technology solutions including a mobile variant of Wi-Fi, 4G, and potentially 5G, are available within the suggested timeframe. Successful deployment of internet connectivity depends on which business model is adopted to ensure that train operating companies can meet the Department for Transport’s connectivity requirements.

The Future Connected Rail Stakeholder Forum (FCRSF) and the Future Connected Train and Customer Communications Steering Group (FCTCCSG), asked for the study, and are collaborations between techUK, on behalf of the digital industries; the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together Network Rail and the train operating companies and Network Rail itself, the government controlled company responsible for managing Britain’s rail infrastructure. RSSB is also a member of FCTCCSG.

The publication of the report coincides with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and the Department for Transport’s recent launch of a call for evidence on ‘Commercial options for delivering mobile connectivity on trains’ which closes on February 7. The findings from the report could help to provide some information to this call for evidence and an event will be organised on February 6 at techUK that brings the rail sector, digital industries and government together to discuss the report in the context of the UK’s ambition on rail connectivity. Nick Wilson of the Rail Delivery Group, on behalf of the FCTCCSG commented:

“This work has helped us to identify the range of technical and commercial options available. It will inform the rail and digital industries on improving digital connectivity (mobile and broadband) across all of Britain’s rail network for the benefit of rail customers and the train operating companies, freight operating companies and rolling stock companies. In addition, the study will inform government of associated investment opportunities and the shaping of policies to maximize them. The study should generate the further essential collaboration between all relevant stakeholders, to enable the connectivity that Britain needs in the years to come.”

N.B. You can register free of charge on SPARKrail to download the report under the reference T1138.

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