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Future railway mobile communication systems

Davood Molkdar
14 April 2023

Rail operators want to replace old mechanical rail systems with modern digital alternatives, enabling the rapid deployment of innovative digital services, such as intelligent traffic management, automated shunting, infrastructure monitoring, and connected workers.

Such systems will require advanced connectivity delivered over high-bandwidth communications, with service-oriented architectures, and safety-critical cloud infrastructure. But many currently use legacy communications systems such as the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM-R), based on decades-old 2G technology.

A future intelligent rail will need to upgrade. Since such upgrades happen irregularly, a number of advances have been made since the last one. Many railways are therefore looking to jump straight to 5G, under the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) standard.

Designed by the International Union of Railways, FRMCS aims to become the worldwide standard. It is a network architecture is designed to provide a software platform with rail in mind, onto which new digital services to be easily built and launched, and services easily upgraded over-the-air.

FRMCS is targeted to replace GSM-R in the next 7-10 years. But this will be no easy task. Railways are complicated and new services take time because of extensive testing, verification, and

stringent safety requirements. The technological challenges are immense; including dual operation during the co-existence period, network type and technology deployment decisions, and new security threats.

But these are challenges we must overcome to deliver future rail networks – and all the safety improvements and cost savings that will come with them.

In our new whitepaper, Future Railway Mobile Communication Systems, we discuss the benefits and challenges of deploying 5G under FRMCS, and propose a model for a migration strategy.


Davood Molkdar

BSc, PhD, CEng, FIET
Davood Molkdar is a telecommunications executive with over 34 years of technical, managerial, and commercial experience. He has expertise in a broad range of telecommunication technologies, and spectrum management. Davood has experience in various domains including smart manufacturing, rail, public land mobile networks, broadcast, utilities and regulatory. He has been involved in various R&D studies and tactical projects for Network Rail in the UK in the last three years. He has worked for service providers, vendors, system integrators, and consulting organisations with international experience in the US, China, the Middle East, and Africa.

    Manoj Kumar Meena

    Manoj is a cyber security focused professional with over 16 years of experience in Telecom, Transport, Manufacturing, Pharma, Healthcare, Banking & Financial, Medical and Research industry. He has an extensive background in engineering security solutions for enterprises. He has delivered complex security solutions meeting the dynamic regulatory and compliance requirements. He has been involved in various R&D studies and currently managing various tactical projects for Network Rail in the UK.

      Future railway mobile communication systems whitepaper

      Rail operators want to move to digital railways, with innovative digital services such as intelligent traffic management, automated shunting, and infrastructure health monitoring.