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Rail Critical Services on the way towards FRMCS

After more than 20 years of the GSM-R success story, it is now time for the next generation of rail mobile communication technology and for the successor of GSM-R – FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System).

The rail industry started to work on the introduction of FRMCS for rail customers in Europe several years ago. During this preface, certain key success factors for a smooth transition of railway operation from GSM-R to FRMCS were identified. It is indeed the early introduction of Mission-Critical Services and Applications, which pave the way for FRMCS and make the much-awaited next-generation operations, for example Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and Autonomous Train Control (ATC), possible.

The 3GPP standard for Mission-Critical Services (MCx) including MCPush-To-Talk for voice, MCData for secure and reliable messaging as well as file distribution and MCVideo, for videos, are the key building blocks, on realizing the vision for the new FRMCS system. Early investment into MCx technology is therefore an investment into FRMCS.

Ongoing emergency call on the next-gen MCx rail app

Implementation of MCx solutions like the one developed by Kontron Transportation, even preceding mandatory FRMCS TSI, allows operators and infrastructure owners to immediately realize the complementary benefits of MCx, for a modern „state-of-the-art” Mission-Critical Communication system. There is no doubt, that because of the upmost requirements for Mission-Critical Networks, e.g. reliability, availability, maintainability, etc., it is preferable to integrate the Mission-Critical Services with a dedicated, privately owned network operating on a dedicated frequency band, to ensure full quality of service and experience. On the other hand, an Over-The-Top (OTT) solution can very well serve the needs of specific customers, where part of the demanding requirements can be solved in a different way or mitigated with operational rules. Additionally, specific features useful for the OTT solution help to overcome transport network specificities and ensure high robustness and availability, thus providing an optimal user experience for the operational users.

As part of the Kontron MCX solution for Mission-Critical Services in both OTT and dedicated scenarios the Next-Generation Dispatcher (NGD) solution for voice, data and video communication can be deployed to provide fully featured Dispatcher services to the railway customers. It is developed on the base of the 3GPP MCx service framework and thus relying on the FRMCS key building block – MCx. As the NGD solution follows the 3GPP and FRMCS standardization path, it is fully future-proof and investment protected as a pre-FRMCS deployment.

Localisation of FRMCS rolling stock and displaying assets status on a GIS map of the next-gen dispatcher

In the 5G-VICTORI context Next-Gen Dispatchers will take care of displaying operational status and locating all rail participants on a GIS map, allowing dynamic management of assets and geo-based group communication. Supported FRMCS REC alerting allows the Dispatcher to take control of alerting areas and intelligently distribute railway emergency calls only to affected vehicles and participants.

An important part of the upcoming FRMCS network will be the Onboard Gateway System and its functionality. The FRMCS on-board system provides transport services for any application onboard of a train. Kontron Transportation is developing an FRMCS Onboard Gateway system in-line with FRMCS specifications, which will be used in 5G-VICTORI test setup.

Overall, 5G-VICTORI will validate Rail Critical Services using end-to-end railway applications over 5G based on Kontron’s MCx and Next-Generation Dispatcher solution, which will be integrated into dedicated standalone 5G systems. The 5G-VICTORI’s testing environment with its custom cluster setups, using participating facilities throughout Europe, is creating a diverse large-scale testing environment for railway applications. This will enable 5G-VICTORI to gain valuable experience on the introduction of FRCMS-like services into a 5G network and experience performance of MCX based services over 5G.


Manfred Taferner

FRMCS Architecture

Martin Piovarci

Product Line Management

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