Brussels, 15 Apr 2003
An EU project is making ground in developing new communications technologies with a view to improving the European railway system.
The integrated communication system for intelligent train application (TrainCom) project is funded under the information society technology programme of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5). The project involves 13 partners from five Member States and Romania and has total budget of over eight million euro.
Today, trains across Europe use a digital network standard called 'train communication network' (TCN), which allows interoperability between train equipment and devices from different manufacturers located on board the same train. TCN was a significant breakthrough for the European railway system, but some feel that more needs to be done to improve its interoperability.
TrainCom aims to integrate the already established onboard communication network with a newly developed ground system that makes use of a railway version of the radio link GSM (global system for mobile communications). Using Internet solutions such as extensible markup languages (XML) and the standard Internet protocol (TCP-IP), messages can be quickly relayed to and from ground control databases and applications.
It is expected that offering this kind ubiquitous remote access to onboard equipment will bring about a new standard platform, on top of which a number of applications can be built, such as passenger information, remote monitoring, maintenance and remote control.
In real terms, such applications are certain to make railway travel in Europe more efficient. It means that passengers will have at their disposal the latest information on destinations, routes, delays, platform arrivals and connections. Furthermore, reservation data will be uploaded to the train directly from a ground office, thus reducing the time limit for reservations before train departure and assuring that updated information is available on board, for passengers to find or check their seats.
Testing is now in its final stage and several demonstrations of the system are planned in the second half of 2003.
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