Advancing Rail Telecom Networks: The Essential Role of Drive Testing

Advancing Rail Telecom Networks: The Essential Role of Drive Testing
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Advancing Rail Telecom Networks: The Essential Role of Drive Testing

This article first appeared in the Railway-News Magazine Issue 2 2024.

By Massimiliano Beccuti, Railway Product Line Manager, VIAVI Solutions

Industries are becoming increasingly digitised, and the railway sector is no different. Urban mobility is undergoing a huge transformation, and railways are at the very heart of freight and passenger transport on a local, national, and in some cases, international, level.

Traffic management tools, passenger information systems, signalling and real-time communication systems are just some of the areas in which digital innovation is proving useful to rail networks. According to one figure, the global digital railway market size is expected to reach $103 billion by 2028 – a CAGR of more than 9%.

If we think of digitisation as a set of new carriages, telecommunications networks are the tracks that support and guide them. Telecommunications serve as the backbone for operational efficiency, safety and the overall reliability of rail services. As this sector transitions from traditional systems, such as the 2G-based GSM-R, to more advanced networks like 4G and 5G, the need for rigorous network performance and reliability assessments becomes critical. Drive testing has emerged as a critical tool in this context, offering a precise method for evaluating new telecom infrastructure. Drive testing ensures that the rail telecom networks meet the high standards required for supporting current operations as well as future technological advancements. Stakeholders can verify network readiness, identify areas for improvement and guarantee that communication systems uphold the safety and efficiency essential for modern rail operations.

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