Siemens and DAMM form rail comms partnership
Under the agreement, the international train control standard ETCS will be combined with the long-range radiocommunication system TETRA for rail operators in Australia.
Mining, freight and other entities will now be able to use long-distance communication networks to control ETCS enabled trains with communication towers installed at distances over 10 km.
“With each state mandating their own networks and no national framework, we wanted to introduce the most interoperable platform using ETCS that works anywhere in Australia,” said Max Eichhorn, executive general manager of Siemens Mobility in Australia and New Zealand.
“The agreement is particularly ingenious as it leverages existing infrastructure and networks, without the need to invest more, and prepares Australian rail for future technological progresses.”
The standard communication protocol used in European railways (GSM-R) is more suited to small distances and high population densities. ETCS is quickly becoming the world standard for main line train control; however, in countries like Australia, the large distances can make this very expensive to deploy. Combining ETCS with TETRA communications allows this interoperable standard to be deployed at a significantly reduced investment.
Providing voice and data for critical emergency communications services among others, TETRA operates over frequencies in the 400 MHz region and provides a greater range than GSM or LTE which are 1.8, 2+ GHz, though with lower bandwidth.
“TETRA is a great fit for the mining industry as they are keen to deploy advanced systems like driverless trains and ETCS to get maximum efficiency. Using TETRA, Siemens enables the industry to do more with less, therefore increasing competitiveness,” said Allan Detlefsen, chief commercial officer at DAMM.
A contract has been signed to trial the national program.
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