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Nokia on track to modernise Western Australia rail communications

Leading comms tech provider to upgrade Public Transport Authority of Western Australia’s railway communications system with private wireless and mission-critical IP/MPLS covering 250km of railway track and tunnels in project including designing, building and maintenance

Hot on the heels of landing a similar deal with rail authorities in India, Nokia has continued its head of steam after being selected by The Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA) to design, build and maintain a next-generation railway communications system over the next decade in Perth.

The Metronet infrastructure and public transport programme is the long-term blueprint for Perth’s future, comprising an integrated transport and land use framework that will support growth of the Perth metropolitan region over the next 50 to 100 years. As a critical element of the Metronet programme, and as part of the agreement, more than 160 4.9G/LTE radio sites will be built to modernise the railway communication system, which includes additional Metronet track and tunnels covering 250km of railway.

The system will be used to upgrade the PTA’s current narrowband rail radio systems, replacing the existing analogue technology with a high-tech 4.9G/LTE digital platform, which is necessary for extremely reliable mission-critical voice, high-speed data and video services. The radio system replacement project is subject to the Critical Infrastructure Act 2021 with scope to include a full cyber security fabric across all solution elements.

The solution will be based on Nokia private 4.9G/LTE mission-critical IP/MPLS, datacentre fabric and microwave backhaul solutions to support a communications-based train control (CBTC) high-capacity signalling system for greater accuracy and efficiency compared with traditional signalling systems.

“We are thrilled to partner with PTA for this prestigious project to design, build and maintain the next-generation railway communications network,” remarked Rob McCabe, head of enterprise for Oceania at Nokia. “Powered by Nokia’s private wireless network solution, the new railway communications system will help enhance the accuracy of the system, leading to improved experience and safety. Nokia is at the forefront of supporting railway networks to accelerate digital transformation for more efficient operations while delivering greater value to the passengers.”

In addition to extending its expertise to more than 485 large private wireless customers worldwide, across an array of sectors, Nokia has worked closely with major railway operators worldwide to bring the benefits of private LTE connectivity, paving the way for the adoption and deployment of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS).

In particular, it has just revealed that it has successfully completed testing of voice and data calls over the world’s first 4.9G/LTE private wireless network to support European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 Signalling for the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) of India.

Phase 1 of the project for NCRTC’s Regional Rapid Transit System covers an 82km rail route with 25 stations between Delhi and Meerut, to be implemented in four stages and set to be completed by 2025. This is said to be a world-first application of an LTE network that is being used along with ETCS Level 2 signalling to provide high-speed, high-reliability commuter services.

The ETCS Level 2-based system allows trains to report their precise location in real time, which will further help to send alerts to commuters by sharing a train’s exact location and decreasing waiting time. Nokia believes the inherent capability of 4.9G/LTE networks to support advanced broadband applications makes it the technology of choice to support mission-critical voice signalling.

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