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Rail News Home Passenger Rail

April 2016

Rail News: Passenger Rail

Perspective: Austrian Light-Rail Transformation


Submitted by Cisco

Network connectivity is at the core of digital rail transformation. Passengers have high expectations of safety, dependability and mobility, so growth and security depends on smarter connections, resource optimization, network convergence and rapid innovation.

Photo: Cisco

The Internet of Things (IoT) creates opportunity, but also increases complexity by producing vast amounts of data. Overcoming this challenge requires more than connecting things and collecting data. Realizing the true value of the IoT requires bridging information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to create a scalable network across an organization. It requires not only understanding and acting on data, but also protecting the data being shared between servers and devices.

Linz AG is part of the technical-services arm of the city of Linz, Austria, a beautiful, historic city and popular tourist destination. Linz AG operates public transportation in the city; produces and distributes energy, power and water; and supports hospital and city government networks as well as other community services. City leaders had a vision of further digitizing the operation of their city's transit system and rethinking core processes while embracing the Internet of Things to upgrade the tram system.

An enhanced light-rail tram system needed live 24-hour video security monitoring in stations for greater safety and better coordination between trams, as well as equipment network-wide that could withstand harsh outdoor environments and constant use.

An application-centric infrastructure
Linz AG began the digital transformation by upgrading analog systems and serial connections to digital and fiber connectivity. Building on its existing Cisco network, they added Ethernet video security monitoring, voice over IP (VoIP), Cisco wireless network controllers, and access points on trams and in stations. Tram stations connect to the network using ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet Switches.

At stations where wired connectivity is not available or practical, Cisco Integrated Services Routers provide 3G wireless traffic backhaul. Tram stations and the tram garage are connected using video security monitoring. The new video security solutions work intelligently with existing network and cybersecurity solutions to protect the network, devices, applications, users and data. Cisco Industrial Ethernet Switches also power 400 ticketing machines around the city.

The Linz AG trams now provide free public Internet services via Cisco wireless controllers and access points. Some stations also offer guest Wi-Fi service. Today, each tram supports 500 simultaneous Wi-Fi users and generates more than 20 GB of 3G wireless traffic per month. The same wireless controllers also transmit shift and driver schedule details to the main driver information system for optimal scheduling.

New ticketing machines support cash or credit card transactions and are monitored and managed from a central location. Workers can update the user interface on any — or all — ticketing machines across the city when needed. Through Cisco Industrial Ethernet switches, ticketing machines notify staff if they malfunction or are tampered with, and technicians can be dispatched to the right location with the right part to get machines back online quickly. With 400 ticketing machines around the city, automatic notification saves technicians hours of time and helps eliminate costly return trips for parts.

Dynamic displays and other benefits
Real-time video displays in stations display schedules, events or incidents that may cause delays, allowing passengers to take alternate routes. Data from connected trams and existing data sources also can be analyzed in real-time, allowing Linz AG to optimize traffic flow and improve schedule accuracy. Passengers can complete trips faster and know exactly when a tram is arriving. Watch the video to see the Linz AG solution for mass transit in action.

Enterprise-level benefits of the new systems include:
• increased tram efficiency and performance while reducing energy consumption by 10 percent;
• reduced carbon dioxide output by 98 tons in less than a year;
• simplified maintenance and lowered service costs for ticketing machines; and
• enhanced capacity management.

As the Linz AG example shows, the Cisco network products help rail operators and transit agencies securely integrate IT and OT for better business insight. This comprehensive set of products and technologies addresses network connectivity, physical and cybersecurity, data analytics, management and automation, cloud-based application development and Cisco Fog Computing.

Photo: Cisco

Cisco helps rail operators deploy a reliable, scalable, high-performance network that converges multiple proprietary systems into a single, secure IP network of ruggedized routers, switches, access points and video cameras. The Cisco 829 IR industrial router with 3G/4G LTE, GPS and WLAN provides secure management of rail and mass-transit applications like onboard passenger Wi-Fi, fleet management and capturing telematics data for proactive maintenance. The 819 IR can be used to deploy wireless kiosks and digital signage.

Cisco Industrial Ethernet switches — including the IE 3000, IE 4000 and IE 5000 with Power over Ethernet (PoE) — can connect trackside sensors, ticketing machines or thousands of high-definition IP cameras.

The IP67-rated Cisco Industrial Wireless 3700 unit provides reliable, high-speed connectivity in mission-critical outdoor rail networks. It connects IP devices and bandwidth-intensive applications with full layer 3 mobility, PoE and best-in-class radio frequency (RF) architecture without the cost of installing cables across long distances. Companies use it to extend support to Wi-Fi clients, such as smartphones, tablets, and high-performance laptops that have integrated 802.11ac support.

Because it is based on a systems approach, the integrated system helps improve operational efficiency and enables stronger security onboard trains, in stations and at trackside. Additional benefits to Linz AG include:
• scalability — use same network for onboard passenger services transmission of information to train crews;
• converged networks for better data sharing across entire operation;
• reduced operating expenses - common network increases uptime and reduces energy consumption;
• easily add new services to IP network including onboard Wi-Fi, video surveillance and real-time trip planning;
• new business models and revenue streams;
• decrease operational disruptions; and
• smarter decisions with IoT data and analytics.

This case study was provided by Cisco. For more information on Cisco's rail-specific products and solutions, visit


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