European railways need to introduce interoperability on their networks and therefore prototypes of a new radio system must be produced to meet the global requirements of these networks. At the same time the railways need a good and complete understanding of the issues related to the installation and operation of a digital cellular radio network, allowing investigation and verification of the real costs associated with the implementation of the future European railway radio, in terms of equipment, services and organisation
Based on existing systems, the project will support standard European rail management applications and be extended to multimedia services for passengers. This will entail an extension of the GSM standard system in order to meet the following operational and safety requirements:
- Railway operations: Man Machine Interfaces (MMI), addressing and numbering schemes.
- Railway telecommunications: broadcast and group calls, fast call set-up associated with the priority and pre-emption mechanisms.
- ERTMS/European Rail Traffic Management System.
Demonstrators will be built and tested on trial sites offering various topographical conditions. Based on standard GSM equipment, these sites will be progressively upgraded with hardware and software packages from different industrial origins and developed on the basis of the European Integrated Railway Radio Enhanced NEtwork (EIRENE) specifications, in order to fully meet the railways operational requirements as well as the telecommunications ones. The sites will make up a coherent test base on which functionality will be validated and will allow technical interoperability to be verified by means of cross operating tests on hardware and software.
The railway-specific operational and telecommunication requirements entailed the need to incorporate additional features in the GSM standard. The project developed the set of specifications allowing for such incorporation, which include specifications relating to the definition of the standard interfaces for different mobile and infrastructure subsystems, notably:
- Fixed infrastructure: the Mobile Switching Centre, the Base Station Controller and the Base Terminal Stations;
- Mobile equipment: the driver's cab radio with its Man Machine Interface and the General Purpose Handheld to be used as a hand portable by the railway users.
Specific purpose subsystems were developed and subsequently tested against these functional and performance requirements in three different trial sites - allowing for testing speeds up to 350 km/h whilst ensuring a diversity of topographical conditions. The tests also covered the assessment of interoperability between equipment from several suppliers. Overall, it was concluded that the demonstration found the GSM-derived technology suitable to fully meet the railway needs.
The results of the MORANE project provided a significant contribution towards both the technical and operational objectives of harmonisation between European railways as set in the Directive 96/48 on the Interoperability of the European High-Speed Rail System. The MORANE/EIRENE results and specifications of the GSM-R (GSM Railway) system are nowadays part of the core requirements of the Technical Specification for Interoperability regarding the European Rail Traffic Management System.
In parallel, GSM-R constitutes a standardised information platform with a significant potential for the creation of new value-added services. These can bring improvements to customer service as well as to maintenance and inventory operations, enabling the creation of competitive advantages that are crucial for the success of the rail sector confronted with the tough competition of the current transport market.
Recognition of these potentialities is demonstrated by the fact that more than thirty-two railways have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding declaring a unified aim to introduce GSM-R as quickly as possible and to co-operate for its wide application.