Nokia has won a tender to test the world’s first standalone (SA) 5G system for automated rail operation on the Deutsche Bahn.
The proof-of-concept will test whether 5G technology is mature enough to be used as the connectivity layer for future, digitalised rail operations. Highly or fully automated trains exchanging data with trackside equipment, enabled by 5G, could be beneficial for cross-border operation, infrastructure capacity, punctuality and customer experience.
Standalone 5G refers to the deployment of 5G without the 4G network, using 5G cells for both signalling and information transfer.
By 2021, as part of the ‘Digitale S-Bahn Hamburg’ initiative, highly automated trains are expected to operate on a 23-kilometre section of the S-Bahn Line 21, starting at Berliner Tor, one of the main transport hubs in Hamburg.
Part of the demonstration will include fully driverless shunting of empty trains in an area near Bergedorf station, based on the transmission of train control information over the Nokia 5G mobile network. A driver will still be on board.
The project will contribute towards the development of the Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) standard, based on 5G. FRMCS will succeed the GSM-R standard, which supports the communication between trains and control centres.
Making Industry 4.0 real
Kathrin Buvac, President of Nokia Enterprise and Chief Strategy Officer, said, “We are very pleased to be Deutsche Bahn’s partner, bringing digital technology to the forefront of the Hamburg S-Bahn network and rail system.
“Together, we have worked to research, develop and deliver the world’s first 5G-based communication system for automated rail operation, an important milestone towards the Future Rail Mobile Communication System and a major step in making Industry 4.0 a reality.”