SNCF trains in France

SNCF Réseau launches FRMCS prototype initiatives

SNCF trains in France

In a bid to modernise and enhance railway communication systems, Europe is gearing up to usher in the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS-5G), slated to replace the ageing GSM-R (2G) by 2035. The system promises interoperability and a significant boost in network performance. SNCF Réseau is participating in prototype initiatives spanning multiple European nations.

The landscape of railway communication is evolving rapidly, with a slew of acronyms dominating the discourse—ERTMS, ETCS, GSM-R, and now FRMCS. Despite the complexity, these systems share a common goal: the modernization and safe interoperability of rail traffic. At the heart of this evolution lies the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), currently being deployed across France and Europe. Comprising signalling for train protection through the European Train Control System (ETCS) and communication via GSM-R, ERTMS forms the backbone of modern railway operations.

FRMCS, still in its prototype phase, is poised to supplant GSM-R at the European level, marking a significant technological leap after more than two decades of GSM-R service. This transition promises not only enhanced interoperability but also improved network performance, reliability, and capacity to handle larger volumes of data compared to its predecessor. “This is an essential step if we are to add new rail-related functionalities, such as Automated Train Operation (ATO) in dense areas, for example. FRMCS will be the backbone of ERTMS,” explains Éric Giraud-Desjuzeur, director of the FRMCS programme at the Directorate-General for Operations and Production in an SNCF Réseau press release.

Notably, FRMCS will leverage 5G technology for standardised and secure communication channels across railway networks. Stéphane Guillemaut, head of the Systems and Innovation section at the Unified Telecoms Division, highlights the incorporation of 5G with added layers of security, akin to those used in defence and law enforcement sectors. Additionally, he states in the release that “The big novelty of FRMCS is the decoupling of radiocommunications and railway applications,” he adds. Thanks to this dissociation, business applications will not need to be reworked every time there is a hardware change in telecoms technology (6G, etc.).”

Gradual rollout and research

The rollout of FRMCS will unfold gradually, with experimental lines slated to begin deployment in 2025. National migration to FRMCS is scheduled between 2028 and 2035, with full commercial operation expected by 2032. This ambitious timeline is driven by the imperative to address the impending obsolescence of GSM-R, with manufacturers phasing out maintenance support as early as 2030.

In tandem with the FRMCS deployment, SNCF Réseau is spearheading several Research & Development initiatives in collaboration with leading manufacturers (including Siemens, Alstom, Kontron, Thalès, and Nokia) and European infrastructure managers (including ÖBB from Austria, SBB from Switzerland, DB Infrago from Germany, ADIF from Spain, and Prorail from the Netherlands.

SNCF Prototype projects

One such initiative is the 5G-RACOM project, a collaborative effort between France and Germany, focused on exploring solutions for the efficient, reliable, and sustainable utilisation of FRMCS. Supported by the French government through the France 2030 investment plan, this project delves into the development and testing of radio technologies capable of seamlessly transitioning between 2G and 5G systems during the migration phase.

Another project, 5G-RAIL, concluded in December 2023 after extensive work on constructing and evaluating the initial prototypes of FRMCS technology. Furthermore, SNCF Réseau is actively involved in the R2 DATO program, which centres on enhancing train automation technologies with a particular emphasis on integrating FRMCS into the automation framework.

Lastly, the MORANE 2 initiative, also referred to as “Destination 2,” is currently in progress, focusing on validating product development standards for mobile radio systems in European railway networks. Scheduled to run for three years between 2024 and 2027, MORANE 2 aims to establish robust standards to drive innovation and efficiency within the railway communication sector.

Further reading:

Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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SNCF Réseau launches FRMCS prototype initiatives | RailTech.com
SNCF trains in France

SNCF Réseau launches FRMCS prototype initiatives

SNCF trains in France

In a bid to modernise and enhance railway communication systems, Europe is gearing up to usher in the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS-5G), slated to replace the ageing GSM-R (2G) by 2035. The system promises interoperability and a significant boost in network performance. SNCF Réseau is participating in prototype initiatives spanning multiple European nations.

The landscape of railway communication is evolving rapidly, with a slew of acronyms dominating the discourse—ERTMS, ETCS, GSM-R, and now FRMCS. Despite the complexity, these systems share a common goal: the modernization and safe interoperability of rail traffic. At the heart of this evolution lies the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), currently being deployed across France and Europe. Comprising signalling for train protection through the European Train Control System (ETCS) and communication via GSM-R, ERTMS forms the backbone of modern railway operations.

FRMCS, still in its prototype phase, is poised to supplant GSM-R at the European level, marking a significant technological leap after more than two decades of GSM-R service. This transition promises not only enhanced interoperability but also improved network performance, reliability, and capacity to handle larger volumes of data compared to its predecessor. “This is an essential step if we are to add new rail-related functionalities, such as Automated Train Operation (ATO) in dense areas, for example. FRMCS will be the backbone of ERTMS,” explains Éric Giraud-Desjuzeur, director of the FRMCS programme at the Directorate-General for Operations and Production in an SNCF Réseau press release.

Notably, FRMCS will leverage 5G technology for standardised and secure communication channels across railway networks. Stéphane Guillemaut, head of the Systems and Innovation section at the Unified Telecoms Division, highlights the incorporation of 5G with added layers of security, akin to those used in defence and law enforcement sectors. Additionally, he states in the release that “The big novelty of FRMCS is the decoupling of radiocommunications and railway applications,” he adds. Thanks to this dissociation, business applications will not need to be reworked every time there is a hardware change in telecoms technology (6G, etc.).”

Gradual rollout and research

The rollout of FRMCS will unfold gradually, with experimental lines slated to begin deployment in 2025. National migration to FRMCS is scheduled between 2028 and 2035, with full commercial operation expected by 2032. This ambitious timeline is driven by the imperative to address the impending obsolescence of GSM-R, with manufacturers phasing out maintenance support as early as 2030.

In tandem with the FRMCS deployment, SNCF Réseau is spearheading several Research & Development initiatives in collaboration with leading manufacturers (including Siemens, Alstom, Kontron, Thalès, and Nokia) and European infrastructure managers (including ÖBB from Austria, SBB from Switzerland, DB Infrago from Germany, ADIF from Spain, and Prorail from the Netherlands.

SNCF Prototype projects

One such initiative is the 5G-RACOM project, a collaborative effort between France and Germany, focused on exploring solutions for the efficient, reliable, and sustainable utilisation of FRMCS. Supported by the French government through the France 2030 investment plan, this project delves into the development and testing of radio technologies capable of seamlessly transitioning between 2G and 5G systems during the migration phase.

Another project, 5G-RAIL, concluded in December 2023 after extensive work on constructing and evaluating the initial prototypes of FRMCS technology. Furthermore, SNCF Réseau is actively involved in the R2 DATO program, which centres on enhancing train automation technologies with a particular emphasis on integrating FRMCS into the automation framework.

Lastly, the MORANE 2 initiative, also referred to as “Destination 2,” is currently in progress, focusing on validating product development standards for mobile radio systems in European railway networks. Scheduled to run for three years between 2024 and 2027, MORANE 2 aims to establish robust standards to drive innovation and efficiency within the railway communication sector.

Further reading:

Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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