FRMCS test environment successfully in use in digital test field
Digitale Schiene Deutschland, together with Nokia and Kontron Transportation, has set up a 5G-based Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) test environment in the Digital Rail Testbed in Germany’s Ore Mountains. Various test campaigns have already been successfully carried out.
In a joint research project to test the future railroad 5G-based radio system FRMCS, Digitale Schiene Deutschland, Nokia and Kontron Transportation are jointly implementing an end-to-end FRMCS network. After a first end-to-end MCPTT ("Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk") P2P call was realized in February, the test environment has now been completely set up and is being actively used for testing.
The FRMCS communication network consists of a 5G system from Nokia (the so-called FRMCS Transport Layer) and the MCx solution from Kontron Transportation (the so-called MCx Service Layer). Both parts have been successfully integrated and interworking verified. The MCx service layer is responsible for providing services towards railway applications for accessing the FRMCS communication system. Separation of the transport and service layers enables greater flexibility and future viability, for example to enable the transport layer for use fo Wifi, satellite communication or 6G.
Funkwerk could also demonstrate the integration of MCx applications. The approach of Funkwerk Systems GmbH is aimed at both a long-term solution for integration of FRMCS and MCx applications (“gateway solution”) and a short-term application that can be operated directly on a train radio system – enabling MCx tests already today
Siemens Mobility has additionally developed the voice application for FRMCS, which is to be tested in the next phase of the project. Siemens Mobility also pushes the standardisation of those technologies (“ETSI plug tests”).
As a platform for train-side testing, the Advanced Train Lab – the test lab on rails for testing of new DB rail applications - has been in use several times in the Digital Test Field.
While some of the planned tests have already been successfully completed, there are still further goals and optimization ideas. Two of those being optimization of 5G radio configuration and further integration of the on-board devices with the trackside MCx system. To this end, teams from all project partners are working closely together to complete the remaining tests by the end of the year.
The test environment in the Ore Mountains will be used in the coming years to enable the testing of Digital Rail’s railway applications (for, e.g., autonomous driving) in an FRMCS network. As future applications in the railroad sector are expected to use technologies such as artificial intelligence, state-of-the-art sensor technology and high-precision train localization, a modern communication network such as FRMCS is a necessary prerequisite, not only for the operation, but also for the testing of these technologies.