RAN planning for GSM-R and 5G/FRMCS is key to ensuring the high-speed, continuous, and reliable communication required for the operations and safety of both current and next-generation railways.

Wireless Communication Network for Railways

In the context of railway networks, RAN planning refers to planning of the Radio Access Network that enables the communications of railway operations, such as signaling and railway mobile communication systems. The railway industry has unique requirements around safety, performance, and reliability, thus requiring special considerations for RAN planning.

Any wireless communication network for railways must be robust, secure, and support continuous communication. It’s crucial for coverage to be uninterrupted along the entirety of the railroad tracks, including in tunnels, under bridges, and in remote or mountainous areas.


Continuous Coverage

Railways often travel through remote and difficult terrain. Ensuring the signal remains strong and uninterrupted across all areas of the railway, including tunnel and bridge crossings, is critical for maintaining communications for both safety and operational efficiency.

High Reliability and Redundancy

In addition to being highly reliable, the network must also have sufficient redundancy measures to prevent any communication failures. This is vital for critical safety systems and for managing train operations.

Support for High Mobility

The high-speed mobility of trains is another unique consideration. The RAN must be able to handle high speeds seamlessly and reliably. This involves managing handoffs between cell sites without dropping calls or data sessions, which is crucial for continuous communication.


Capacity Planning, Quality of Service, and Interoperability

RAN planning for railways must also account for varying load demands, which include increased demand at peak times and significant fluctuations depending on passenger volume train schedules. The Quality of Service (QoS) further requires the prioritization of critical communications—such as those for emergency services—over less critical services. Since the rail industry is transitioning from older technologies like GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway) to newer ones like FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System based on 5G), it’s also important that RAN planning accounts for compatibility with both technologies and standards.


RAN Planning for Railway Networks with Atoll

Atoll’s comprehensive network planning includes detailed coverage and capacity analysis for GSM-R and 5G wireless technologies, including environments such as railway stations and tunnels. Its ability to model both the outdoors and indoors—including the structure and materials of buildings—enables it to accurately predict signal propagation and ensure reliable communication along railway tracks. Atoll can also model both GSM-R and FRMCS technologies concurrently, allowing both systems to be operational simultaneously across the railway network and helping to prevent any service disruptions during the transition period.