ANY DOUBT that GSM-R might fail to become the standard radio platform for Europe’s railways can be set aside. The June decision by the board of Deutsche Bahn AG to replace eight disparate analogue radio systems with a single GSM-R radio network will result shortly in a service supplier agreement with Arcor, the former railway telecoms organisation in which DB still has a 25% shareholding. DB and Arcor will invest DM1·5bn to create the GSM-R network over three years and thus provide radio communications for the national railway until 2007.

Dipl-Ing Lothar Lengemann, Project Leader for DB, told AiC’s conference on GSM-R & Digital Train Radio in London last month that the present 10300 analogue transmitters would be replaced by 2800 base stations for the multi-function digital cellular GSM-R network, using frequencies in the 900MHz band already allocated in most European countries for rail use. The number of mobile radios will go up from 90000 to 150000 as everything from local networks for shunting to the LZB track-to-train data link controlling trains over 160 km/h is replaced by cellular radio.

Eduard Stiefel, Director of Telecoms at Swiss Federal Railways, said GSM-R would be used to support a pilot project for the European Train Control System on 32 km of the Olten - Luzern route (RG 5.98 p279). The intention, he said, was that all trains using this line would be equipped by the end of 2000 ’and then we won’t have lineside signals any more ... we want to be sure we can get rid of lineside signalling.’

Railtrack is pressing ahead with trials of Digital Advanced Radio for Trains. Dart system design was completed in August, and Siemens has a contract to supply hardware. However, with GSM-R frequencies not expected to be available in Britain until 2005, Dart will rely on a public GSM network which ’can deliver the functional requirements for railway operation at a lower cost than dedicated private networks [like GSM-R]’, according to Phil Clayton, Railtrack’s Senior Project Manager. In fact, the Radio Communications Agency advised Railtrack only last month that a 4MHz block of frequencies in the GSM-R band should be available from 2001. o