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The Future of Rail Comms: Solid Infrastructure and Software Driven Solutions |

Transport and Logistics
Business Development Manager, Rail and Transport
The Future of Rail Comms: Solid Infrastructure and Software Driven Solutions

The transport industry is going through enormous change. Technologies such as driverless buses bring great potential for change, coupled with society trends of increasing populations living in more urban areas. Even the increased frequency and scale of disruptive events, for example, “100-year” storms and other natural disasters, have an impact on the transport industry.

The transport industry not only needs to accommodate these changes, but also prepare for greater demand. Truck traffic is predicted to double by 2030, rail freight is expected to increase by two-thirds by 2030 and road congestion will rise if current trends continue.1

Critical to succeeding in this environment is a solid communications infrastructure with the capacity to scale along with societal and environmental pressures.

This article will focus on the rail industry and how the combination of infrastructure and software provide a solution.

Greater complexity means higher stakes

Rail communications projects are more complex and challenging than even a decade ago. The stakes are much higher with larger systems over bigger geographical areas, greater numbers of passengers, large investments from government or private companies and economies dependent on reliable freight services. Meeting service level agreements encompassing time, efficiency and safety is critical.

For example, one of Motorola Solutions’ rail projects includes the construction of public transportation systems in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, with the capacity to carry 150,000 passengers per day. The system consists of 16 stations over a track length of 4,085 kilometres, including 2.47 kilometres underground.

A rail system in China, running on Motorola Solutions’ high-speed wireless broadband network, is of such significance in transporting passengers and exchanging goods between inland and coastal regions that the system is known as the “Heart of China Railway”.

Another project was the provision of a digital communications system for Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation, where a TETRA digital communications platform was implemented over its 345 kilometre track including tunnels, train stations and depots. The train-borne equipment also has to work optimally under high-speed conditions of over 300 kilometres per hour!

In Australia, continual operations in a minerals and energy company are dependent on our reliable networks serving one of Australia’s longest private freight railways in Western Australia.

Experience matters

With such high stakes, customers require a partner with experience and a deep understanding of both rail communication solutions and leading-edge technology.

In Taiwan, Motorola Solutions is the partner-of-choice for the Toshiba Corporation, a consortium member of Taiwan Shinkansen Corporation and main contractor for the project, decided that Motorola Solutions, with its strong leadership in digital communications for the high speed rail industry, was the ideal partner for the project.

The importance and complexity of a wireless communications system project in Shanghai, which started in 2005, required an innovative design philosophy and construction on an unprecedented scale in the history of China and even in Asia Pacific’s rail construction industry. To undertake a project of this scale, with a long time frame and complexity, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group required a strategic communications partner who could provide the leading-edge technology, coupled with rich relevant experience and strong local support to ensure the project’s success.

“Reliability, operational efficiency and safe operation were critical consideration factors,” said Zhu Husheng, Vice President of Shanghai Shentong Metro Co Ltd. “After careful evaluation, we decided on Motorola Solutions’ dispatch communication system based on their proven track record in TETRA implementations for rail projects. Coupled with Motorola Solutions’ advanced technology, the new radio systems will enable information and communication to be dispatched in a more effective and secure manner during our daily operations.”

With ambitious public transportation construction projects planned for the coming years, Beijing Urban Transit Railway Corporation wanted to deploy a technology that would allow them to share valuable resources. Hence, an open standard based architecture, scalability and interoperability became top priorities in its considerations. The extent of the project also made it necessary for the corporation to look for a long term strategic partner. Motorola Solutions was partner-of-choice for its proven expertise in technological innovation and extensive experience in real world implementation of end-to-end radio communications solutions for significant rail transportation projects.

People at station long pic

An end-to-end solution 

Implementation of state-of-the-art rail communications extends beyond just radio network technologies. Instead, a complete end-to-end communications solution is required, from radio communication devices to rail operation control centre applications, trainborne equipment, field personnel communications and services provided by experienced project managers and field engineers.   

For example, in Shanghai, Motorola Solutions is the system integrator and technology planner, responsible for system design, equipment and material delivery, supply management, project execution, system integration, project management, quality control and system maintenance.

For Taiwan Rail Administration’s total radio communications solution, the digital radio system is integrated with a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system to support the calling of trains by train run number (TRN), as well as a trainborne radio system to support the interface to the train radio control panel, train protection radio system and other on-board equipment.

Singapore’s solution is an integration of various subsystems to Motorola Solutions’ digital radio system: the CAD system to support the TRN calling features, interfacing to the automatic train supervisory (ATS) system to extract train location information; and a trainborne radio system that interfaces with the in-train emergency communications button, public address system and other equipment monitoring.

All about software

Over and above a solid communications infrastructure, software solutions are key to the long term success and viability of rail infrastructures, providing enormous potential for greater functionality and the capacity to accommodate growth.

For example, software solutions deliver secure and real time access to previously inaccessible network data that can lead to improvements in efficiency, or unify disparate information systems in a way that is easy to interact with and ultimately useful to the end-user. 

Alternatively, imagine a fully interconnected mobile incident management system with integrated push-to-talk (PTT) capability across devices (mobile phones, tablets or desktops) and networks (cellular, PSTN, digital or analogue and private networks). 

Software is where the true innovation lies, and in upcoming articles we will focus more on these exciting and practical software driven solutions. 


Did you know?

Motorola Solutions has more than 80 rail communications projects in Asia Pacific alone.

We are the world’s largest supplier of TETRA radio communications, with more than 600 TETRA customers in over 100 countries.

The company has achieved a number of significant milestones in providing digital trunked radio solutions to the rail transportation industry, such as:

  • First operational TETRA system for rail in the world – Malaysia ERL.
  • First in the world to implement TETRA for high speed rail: Taiwan High Speed Railway where train-borne equipment must function optimally under high-speed conditions of over 300 km/h.
  • First APCO P25 contract for high speed rail: South Korea High Speed Rail.


  1. “Trends: Infrastructure and Transport to 2030”, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Government, Australian Government, Feb 2014

Leon Benn

Business Development Manager, Rail and Transport

Leon Benn is the business development manager for Motorola Solutions’ national rail and transport market. His career spans more than 25 years across multiple continents in the utility, telecoms, IT and rail industries, gaining extensive business and cultural experience across different nations. Formally qualified as an electronic engineer, Leon holds several business qualifications including a Masters degree in technology management. ...