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February 2022

Rail News: C&S

Product update: Train control technology

Siemens Airlink MC-IoT Wireless Communication System features a dual-mode base station and wayside radios.
Photo – Siemens Mobility


Compiled by Grace Connatser, Associate Editor

Siemens Mobility

Having embraced precision scheduled railroading and needing to leverage their investments in positive train control, Class Is are pursuing advanced train-control systems to automate train operations. In doing so, railroads are pushing the limits of their communication infrastructure as these mission critical systems require constant connectivity between onboard, wayside and office devices, and demand increased reliability with more data consumed than ever before, Siemens Mobility officials said in an email.

The default solution has been to continue to build new dedicated and application-specific wireless networks, invest in more radio frequency (RF) spectrum for existing networks or deploy traditional cellular and satellite connections. However, such solutions are growing more expensive over the long run.

Taking advantage of advances in private wireless networking and the emergence of new standards, Siemens Mobility has worked with Ondas Networks to develop Siemens Airlink MC-IoT Wireless Communication System. The system is a suite of software-defined radios based on IEEE 802.16s, the standard for broadband, wireless and fixed/mobile access systems.

It features a dual-mode base station and wayside radios that are over-the-air compatible with Siemens Mobility’s legacy ATCS base station and ATCS wayside radios. With internet protocol connectivity, support for all traditional railroad frequencies and features that maximize frequency re-use and bandwidth, the new Airlink MC-IoT radios will enable railroads to deploy a future-proof, private, licensed and wireless communication network, Siemens Mobility officials said.

Airlink MC-IoT can leverage railroads’ extensive investment in RF spectrum and physical infrastructure, and meet stringent demands for high reliability, security and low latency that are critical for the operation of next-generation train control systems, they said.

Wabtec Corp.

Railroads throughout North America are rapidly adopting Wabtec Corp.’s next generation of distributed power (DP) called LOCOTROL® eXpanded Architecture (LOCOTROL XA), Wabtec Corp. officials said in an email.

Wabtec’s LOCOTROL XA distributed power offering targets longer trains and PTC communication enhancements.

Wabtec has deployed over 8,000 systems for seven Class Is in the past three years. LOCOTROL XA DP is helping those railroads manage crew shortages and a significant increase in demand by enabling longer, heavier trains, Wabtec officials said. A single 8,000-foot train is now being doubled up to 16,000 feet, thereby saving a railroad valuable crew starts.

To run their trains efficiently and without service interruptions, railroads are taking advantage of their investment in positive train control (PTC) by enabling adjacent products — such as LOCOTROL XA DP — to utilize the PTC communications network, Wabtec officials said.

With testing completed in 2021, the company is upgrading LOCOTROL XA DP fleets at several Class Is to utilize their PTC communications. This type of adjacent usage enables not only more efficient communication but lays a foundation for future automation products, such as Road RCL and Drone Control, Wabtec officials said.

Email comments and questions to grace.connatser@tradepress.com.

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