Railway operations over 5G

The 5G revolution is already here. The Department of Telecommunications (DOT), Government of India, has established a “5G testbed” in 2018 with a budget of about Rs. 220 crores in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, along with other institutions. Its goal is not just to develop and test new technologies within the country but also to train students and work closely with companies to plug in their solutions. The 5G testbed at IISc will create a 5G prototype and testing platform for developing innovative baseband algorithms under the guidance of the faculty of the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE) at IISc.One of the technologies driving 5G, which is being explored at IISc, is called massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output). IISc is also building hardware that can work in 5G frequencies. We are fortunate to be associated with IISc and have access to all the facilities at IISc.

On 04 May 2021, DOT, Govt. of India has granted permissions to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) for conducting trials for use and applications of 5G technology. The duration of the trials, at present, is for 6 months. The TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G Technology.  It may be noted that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates a much larger reach of the 5G towers and Radio networks. The 5Gi technology has been developed by IIT Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad.

5G technology is expected to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (expected to be 10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency to enable the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). Applications are across a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, education, health, transport, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and multiple applications of IoT (Internet of Things).

What 5G can offer to railways

As worldwide demand to travel by rail continues to grow, today’s current communication systems cannot provide adequate services to satisfy both passengers and rail operators. In order to control the railway operations and signalling and for predictive and perspective maintenance of rolling stock and infrastructure, there is a need for high speed and high-quality communication.

Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications promise to shape the future of the railways by offering secure and reliable communications that result in ultra-low latency.5G is not just about providing more bandwidth to users – it is also designed for industrial uses, especially automation and sensor communications. 5G offers the best communication platform, which enables connectivity between a variety of end devices, including monitoring devices and computational resources, through a heterogeneous adaptable network infrastructure.

The most critical advantage of the 5G network is signalling. The weight of a train and the speed with which it is travelling determine the necessary space between two trains so that they don’t collide. With 5G, there will be improved and more accurate signalling that will avoid the need to spend more infrastructure funds on tracks. Through 5G communications, the space between two trains can be reduced, and the rate that they flow together can be improved.

Implementing 5G to the railway systems is advantageous in many respects. From improved communications to overall operations, the trains will be able to move faster and more reliably, making the railways a better option than other modes of transport. Ultimately, 5G is about delivering more reliable service at reduced cost and better safety. 

Accomplishments of L2M

L2M has built innovative solutions/products based on Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) for railways such as Cyber Signaling System (CSS), Axle Counter Plus (ACP), Wheel Impact Load Detection (WILD) etc. It is needless to say that our solutions/products perform at their best on the 5G communication network. We are ready with the required setup to experiment 5G as part of our Innovations.