From passengers and station managers to train stations and even the tracks, when it comes to train travel, everyone and everything are connected. Passengers are looking for new online travel services. Operators are seeking ways to increase efficiency and protect the safety of both trains and rail infrastructure. And, with the advent of the Internet of Things, the rail industry is becoming a strategic source of data—and an integral part of new digital business models.
The rail industry’s extreme network connectivity is creating some critical issues when it comes to managing the rollout of wireless networks. Uptime is, of course, both a major requirement and a key challenge in complex situations compounded by long distances, confined spaces, large metal structures, high-speed travel, interference, and a host of other issues known to disrupt wireless networks. Endless field testing is usually not an option: contractors simply do not have access to the majority of work sites before the actual rollout.
IRT Railenium and IRT Nanoelec are joining forces to complete testing on a radio emulator, a world-class piece of equipment that lets researchers reproduce the rail industry’s extreme operating conditions right in the lab so that they can check that all wireless equipment is configured properly. Research on rail environments and the effects of high-speed movement have been researched extensively; the tests will provide an opportunity to determine which configurations are critical for factors like distance, speed, tunnels, where antennas are installed on trains, and more. The tests will drive innovations in testing for tomorrow’s hyper connected rail industry.