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IP Convergence – Running train safely whilst opening the gates to increased flexibility

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About this issue

IP is often viewed as the communications infrastructure of tomorrow. However, IP/MPLS’ capability to host legacy systems as well as new and additional services all on the same infrastructure means that railways across the world are already looking to IP to solve today’s operations dilemmas.

Of course with the next generation of communications networks and services set to be IP-based, converging a network to IP now will also leave operators in a strong position for future upgrades. Fourth-generation technology based on the LTE standard is expected to supersede GSM-R as the standard for railway communications by the middle of the next decade. And while this may appear to be a daunting prospect for railways, those that have already taken the step up to IP are already in a much stronger position to proceed with this upgrade. They are also enjoying the benefits of high bandwidth that is enabling them to provide enhanced CCTV and VoIP services, improving the safety of their operations for staff and passengers.

But what are the risks of hosting multiple services on a single piece of infrastructure? And is carrying out convergence now economic particularly at a time when budgets are stretched? This issue of TrackTalk brings together four perspectives on the issue of IP convergence and aims to find out whether it is truly safe for an operator to put all of their eggs in one basket.

Defining a transition path to IP-based railway technology

The longer an operator sticks with GSM-R, the more expensive it is going to get. The UIC says that many networks should be looking to make a decision on how to proceed with a replacement by the end of the decade. We look at the economic case for converging a network to IP and consider the short and long-term benefits that consolidating communications network infrastructure will provide operators.

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REFER Telecom: Migrating networks to a unified IP/MPLS-based train control communications infrastructure

Moving from separated service networks to a converged IP/MPLS multi-service network offers a step-change in operational flexibility and efficiency while reducing the total cost of ownership. The migration IP/MPLS on the Portuguese railway network was driven by the need renew communications systems for safety-critical applications, but the benefits are extending to applications across all sectors of railway operation.

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IP transformation for Milan metro improves efficiency and reduces costs

Milan’s metro operator, Azienda Trasporti Milano (ATM), upgraded its communications infrastructure to IP/MPLS few years ago. We look at why the operator decided to converge and how it is now benefitting from a range of improved services.

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IP/MPLS: Total flexibility and security for railway operators

What are the capabilities of an IP/MPLS network? And what is an operator set to gain following its convergence? Alcatel-Lucent outlines its views on the benefits of introducing IP and IP/MPLS infrastructure and where it believes railway communications and operations are heading in the next 10-15 years.

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