ProRail has appointed Nokia to operate its GSM-R network, while Cellnex has been awarded a contract to install and operate telecoms masts (Photo: NS)

NETHERLANDS: Infrastructure manager ProRail has appointed Nokia to operate and maintain its GSM-R voice and data communications network, while Cellnex has been awarded a contract to install and operate telecoms masts.

The 10-year agreement with Nokia which runs from September 2022 ‘represents a major step forward in our long-standing relationship’, said ProRail Chief Information Officer Arjen Boersma on April 29. ‘It creates the platform for long-term system performance and operational efficiency, as well as paving the way for migration to the Future Railway Mobile Communications System.’

Nokia’s delivery team will be based at its Hoofddorp offices in the Netherlands and its network operations centre in Romania, enabling it to draw on it experience of providing GSM-R to rail operators in 22 countries covering 109 000 track-km.

ProRail has also selected Cellnex has the neutral telecom infrastructure provider responsible for managing its mobile connectivity sites.

Cellnex can set up 80 masts on railway land that it leases from ProRail, rent the masts to other parties and in future erect another 100 masts. ‘With this step, we kill two birds with one stone’, said Boersma. ‘We create an important condition for running more trains, and it helps telecom providers and transporters to ensure that all those people in the train will soon have even better mobile coverage.’

Cellnex will work with infrastructure subcontractor VolkerWessels Telecom which is certified to work on the rail network.

‘The total demand for passenger and freight transport is expected to increase by 30% by 2040’, said Ed Boerema, Managing Director of Cellnex Netherlands. ‘More movements on and around the track means more demand for data and telecommunication services. And with the advent of 5G, more and more new applications are becoming possible.’