Activity report 2017

Technical Committee (TC) Rail Telecommunications (RT)

Chairman: Robert SarfatiUnion Internationale des Chemins de Fer

Responsible for the development and maintenance of standards related to GSM-R (GSM™ for railways) as well as Next Generation Radio for Rail (NG2R)

The international railway community has long used enhanced GSM™ technology to meet its operational needs. 

GSM-R is based on the GSM standard, with added features specific to the railway environment, including data and voice communications at commercial speeds of up to 350 km/h and beyond. GSM-R now reaches over 120 000 kilometres of railway lines in Europe and a further 120 000 kilometres throughout the rest of the world. Most Western European railways are now fully equipped with GSM-R on their high speed and conventional lines.

New features are constantly being added to GSM-R – to meet growing user demand and to answer the needs the next generation of rail transport activity – and frequency bands have also been extended. ETSI’s Rail Telecommunications committee (TC RT) is responsible for the maintenance and continuing development of the GSM-R standard, both to meet the requirements of the railways and in response to relevant European Directives. TC RT therefore collaborates closely with the railway industry in Europe and throughout the world. 
To maintain the GSM-R standard, TC RT submits Change Requests to the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP™) for updating the ‘plain’ GSM standard as required. The committee updates its own standards and specifications on an ongoing basis in line with new developments and frequency allocations. In 2017 the committee continued to maintain and develop the GSM-R standard, enhancing it with new features specific to the railway environment, including data and voice communications at commercial speeds of up to 350 km/h and beyond. We collaborate closely with the railway industry in Europe and throughout the world in the course of our work.  In 2017 we completed the alignment of the requirements for GSM operation on railways with 3GPP Release 99.  The work on a new TS to define a technical solution and the related minimum requirements for shared use of the 5 855 – 5 925 MHz frequency band by Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and urban rail applications is ongoing, with publication planned in the first quarter of 2019. In the context of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), we are studying the next generation end-to-end system requirements for rail transportation supporting multiple access technologies. The findings are now published as 3GPP Technical Report TR 22 289. At the same time, we continue to work closely with 3GPP, as well as the International Union of Railways (UIC), on the introduction of use cases for FRMCS within the normative specifications related to Mission Critical Communications. 

Other ongoing work includes the harmonization at least at European level of the Extended GSM-R frequency range for use for the FRMCS. We have also continued our liaise with the UIC and the European Union Agency for Railways on the communications aspects of Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) to ensure the interoperability of the trans-European rail system. In the spectrum use area, during the year we worked on development of a TR to define main simulation parameters relevant to rail environment relating to 3GPP LTE™ radio performance. Publication of a TR was expected by mid-2018.

In the FRMCS architecture area, we progressed development of a TR to: 

  • Provide a reference model of FRMCS system architecture from a functional point of view.
  • Provide a high-level description of the functions that address FRMCS requirements (as specified by FRMCS URS and Use Cases).
  • Define internal and external boundaries of the FRMCS system (e.g. transport versus applications, external systems, external networks, etc).