FRMCS Phase 4

Project information

  • Acronym: FRMCS-4
  • FRMCS Phase 4
  • Sector: Telecom & Signalling
  • Project start date: 01/01/2024
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Project director: Jean-Michel Evanghelou
  • Project manager: Dan Mandoc
  • Status: ongoing project
  • Project code: 2024/RSF/844

Project description

The Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) is the successor to GSM-R, which has been used by European railways for operational communication.
GSM-R, a 2G+ based system, covers over 130,000 kilometers of track in Europe and 210,000 kilometers worldwide.

FRMCS addresses two critical aspects:
First, it replaces GSM-R, which is becoming obsolete by 2035, ensuring continuity for European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).
Second, FRMCS enables rail digitalization by handling increasing data volumes.

In the 2023 CCS TSI, FRMCS is introduced alongside GSM-R, and both systems will coexist until around 2035. The next steps involve developing FRMCS V2 specifications, executing the MORANE 2 European FRMCS Trial, and defining the FRMCS 1st Edition for national trials.

Project objectives

Deliver FRMCS V2 Specifications: The primary goal is to finalize and release the specifications for FRMCS Version 2. These specifications will define the technical requirements, protocols, and features necessary for the next generation of railway communication systems.

Support ETSI TC RT in Completing UIC Specifications: Collaborating with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Technical Committee on Rail Telecommunications (TC RT), the project aims to enhance existing UIC (International Union of Railways) specifications. By integrating solutions from ETSI, FRMCS will be a comprehensive system that meets the needs of modern railways.

Advocate for Railways within 3GPP: The project team will actively engage with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to ensure that railway-specific requirements (such as functional aspects, quality of service, and radio communication) are considered during the development of global communication standards. UIC will represent the interests of the railway industry in this context.

Implement MORANE 2 European Trial: Working closely with the European Railway Joint Undertaking (ERJU) and the European Commission (EC), the project will establish MORANE 2—the European trial for FRMCS. UIC will coordinate this trial, with ERJU providing financial support. The trial will validate FRMCS capabilities and assess its performance in real-world scenarios.

Develop FRMCS V3 Specifications (1st Edition): Building upon the progress made in V2, the project will create FRMCS Version 3 specifications. These specifications will define the complete FRMCS system—the first one that railways can procure. The goal is to enable national trials and eventual adoption across the rail industry.

Risks: The transition from GSM-R to FRMCS involves several risks:

  • GSM-R Obsolescence: GSM-R, the current system, is nearing its end-of-life. Maintaining it will become costly and challenging.
  • Loss of ERTMS Support: Without a harmonized radio system, ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) will no longer be supported. This jeopardizes interoperability and essential voice communication features, including Railway Emergency Calls.
  • Digitalization Impact: The absence of a 5G carrier—the backbone of digitalization—poses a significant risk.
  • Financial Implications: Each member faces substantial financial risks (in the tens of millions of euros) due to the reasons mentioned above.
  • High Cost/Benefit Ratio: Despite the risks, the benefits of adopting FRMCS are substantial, making the cost/benefit ratio favorable.

In summary, the project aims to deliver advanced specifications, address industry-specific needs, and mitigate risks associated with the transition to FRMCS. The ultimate goal is to enhance railway communication, safety, and efficiency.

Project members

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Tuesday 28 May 2024