Technical Committee (TC) Rail Telecommunications (RT) Activity Report 2022

Chair: Pierre Tane, Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer

Responsible for the development and maintenance of standards related to GSM-R (GSM™ for railways), the development of standards for the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) and telecommunication aspects related to the Urban Rail transportation domain.   

The international railway community has long used the GSM-R (GSM™ for railways) standard, an enhancement of GSM technology. Now there is a need to address the harmonized telecommunication requirements for tomorrow’s railway systems.

The responsibilities of our Rail Telecommunications Technical Committee (TC RT) include:

  • Development and maintenance of ETSI standards related to GSM-R as required by applicable European legislation;
  • Collecting requirements from relevant stakeholders from the Rail Transportation domain, including urban, suburban, regional, long distance for Professional Mobile Radio Access systems;
  • Provision of standards for voice, data services and other applications over broadband and narrowband air interfaces for the Rail Transportation domain;
  • Identifying spectrum needs for Rail Transportation domain and proposing appropriate solutions.

In 2020 ETSI received a standardization request (M/570) from the European Commission, requesting the drafting of new European Standardization deliverables for Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), the successor to GSM-R. This request has led to the adoption of an intensive Work Programme driving the development by TC RT of an extensive set of new Technical Specifications for FRMCS.

Working with the rail industry in Europe and worldwide, the TC RT accordingly liaises closely with the International Union of Railways (UIC) setting the Users Requirements and 3GPP to standardize FRMCS, with ETSI playing a major role in the technical assessment of user requirements and organizing the transition towards the corresponding 3GPP study (3GPP TR 22.889) and the evolution of the current normative specifications to take into account Rail Users’ needs. Among other aspects, this work considers train speeds up to 500 km/h and the integration of 3GPP radio technologies with a primary focus on 5G NR.

The committee also continues to maintain the GSM-R standard, enhancing it with new features specific to the railway environment, including data and voice communications at very high speeds.

2022 saw the publication of these deliverables:

Issued in September, TS 103 389 V3.4.1 revises an existing Technical Specification on Usage of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) on the Network Switching Subsystem (NSS) to Fixed Terminal Subsystem (FTS) interface for GSM-R. The update adds clarifications and corrections for usage of SIP-URI and update of call transfer notification with additional options.

Also issued in September as a Technical Report, TR 103 768 presents a preliminary analysis of potential interworking scenarios between FRMCS and legacy GSM-R systems. TR 103 768 will guide development of the Technical Specification on FRMCS/GSM-R interworking [to be published as TS 103 792], an important constituent of the set of ETSI specifications supporting the FRMCS industrial plan.

Meanwhile TC RT has continued its ongoing work in response to M/570 on FRMCS specifications. Various standards, specifications and reports in progress during 2022 have included:

  • FRMCS System architecture [to be published as TS 103 764]
  • FRMCS Transport stratum definition [to be published as TS 103 765-1]
  • FRMCS Service stratum definition [to be published as TS 103 765-2]
  • FRMCS vocabulary [to be published as TR 103 791]
  • FRMCS On-board functions and interfaces [to be published as TS 103 765-3]
  • FRMCS Trackside functions and interfaces [to be published as TS 103 765-4]
  • FRMCS/GSM-R interworking [to be published as TS 103 792]
  • FRMCS Radio characteristics [to be published as TS 103 793]
  • FRMCS User Equipment (UE) capabilities related to transport stratum and RF aspects [to be published as TS 103 765-5]
  • FRMCS Radio performance analysis for different FRMCS deployment options [to be published as TR 103 865]

In the domain of spectrum sharing for Urban Rail ITS and Road ITS applications, in May the committee’s JTFIR (ITS/RT Joint Task Force) Working Group published TR 103 745. Developed in cooperation with ETSI’s Technical Committee on Intelligent Transport Systems, the report details a measurement campaign to validate interference simulation results, and to confirm simulation parameters used to define the proper mitigation area to protect Urban Rail communications in the 5 915 - 5 925 MHz band. Conducted under the scope of an EC-funded STF, this activity is linked to the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/1426 on the harmonized use of radio spectrum in the 5 875 - 5 935 MHz frequency band.

Meanwhile JTFIR has continued to make progress during the year on a Technical Specification [to be published as TS 103 745] on shared use of spectrum for Urban Rail ITS/Road ITS applications in the 5855 - 5925 MHz band, complementing the newly-published TR 103 745. Revisions to the existing Technical Report TR 103 580 on the same topic are also underway. JTFIR works in cooperation with TG 37 to define a solution considering the Road ITS standards/TR/TS and on the principle of technology neutrality. This original schedule has been extended by one year, targeting completion of work by Summer 2024.

Meanwhile, in cooperation with ERM TG37, the committee is also developing a new Harmonised Standard for access to radio spectrum in relation to radio equipment for applications such as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) operating in the 5 875 MHz - 5 935 MHz band.

See the full list of TC RT and JTFIR Work Items currently in development here.

Held in May 2022, ETSI’s second Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) PlugtestsTM event took place remotely. 60 test sessions were executed between vendors, based on 3GPP Release-17.

The capabilities of MCPTT, MCVideo and MCData were also tested during the 7th ETSI MCX PlugtestsTM event, held from 7-11 November 2022 at the University of Malaga (UMA) using 4G and 5G test networks. More than 1200 test cases were executed between vendors, based on 3GPP Release-17. For the first time, a 5G network was used for a MCX and FRMCS PlugtestsTM and – also for the first time – eMBMS network elements were integrated into the setup of the test networks. 

ETSI’s Rail Telecommunications Technical Committee would also like to acknowledge and thank Robert Sarfati, outgoing chairman of TC RT since its creation in 2001, for his leadership and significant contribution in the field of standardization for the railway sector.