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Alstom runs 4G LTE multi-services pilot for train operations

Transport engineering company Alstom conducts the first live pilot test of 4G LTE multi-services on French railways

Energy and transport company Alstom has completed the world’s first live pilot test of 4G LTE multi-services based on Communications-based Train Control (CBTC), a railway signalling system based on wireless ground-to-train communications.

The tests, conducted using Huawei technology under lab conditions, on static train sets, and trackside on railway lines near Valenciennes in northern France, covered the unified multi-service capabilities of a number of systems, including CBTC, passenger information systems and closed-circuit TV. Alstom said it marked a major step towards the LTE commercialisation of CBTC services.

Alstom has already become the world’s first rolling stock manufacturer to integrate 4G LTE technology into its Urbalis Fluence CBTC signalling solution. This, it said, improves the suitability of Huawei’s eLTE broadband trunking – which was specifically developed for the rail sector with a focus on multimedia applications, voice trunking and 4G LTE broadband data services – in providing converged ground-to-train communications for metro rail operations. 

Paris-based Alstom turned to Huawei to provide a 100Mbps eLTE network, network planning, broadband data services and mission critical voice trunking, while it supplied technology integration support, LTE-compliant on-board equipment and, not least, a train.

4G LTE national infrastructure

Huawei said that by beefing up CBTC train signaling with eLTE, metro rail operators could reduce operational and maintenance costs and quickly obtain passenger information, improving serviceability and safety.

The Chinese network supplier has already signed 111 eLTE network contracts and set up 53 live networks in 30 countries. A number of these are on rail systems, including the 600km Shuohuang Railway, a critical link in China’s heavy haulage network, where Huawei now delivers services including multi-locomotive control, wireless data communications and on-board video surveillance.

However the technology has also been adopted in other verticals, enhancing an existing terrestrial trunked radio (Tetra) network for the Shanghai Police Department, and in support of a rural broadband roll-out in Ożarowice, Poland.

Alstom manufactures a number of train sets currently in use on the UK network, including the Class 373 Eurostar and the Class 390 Pendolino, which is operated by Virgin Trains.

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