Historic railway upgrades mission-critical communication system without disruption
Every year, Rhaetian Railway (RhB) offers 12 million passengers a memorable journey through the mountainous Swiss Alps aboard the world-famous Glacier Express. One-third of the 384km railway is a UNESCO World Heritage site, situated more than 1,500 meters above sea level and one-fifth of its length, about 77km, composed of man-made structures. While the route is stunning, the weather in the region can vary considerably-subzero temperatures, heavy snow and gusty winds are regular occurrences, making it among the harshest rail environments in the Alps.
The same rugged terrain that is the hallmark of the route created issues for the aging signaling and communications technologies as they ran through the long tunnels and across the deep gorges. To address these challenges, RhB began collaborating with Hitachi Energy in 2013 on the mission-critical communications (MCC) network modernization project with the aim of updating those systems and renewing their communications equipment that had reached end of life. The team developed a robust and reliable communications solution to support the vital signaling systems required to safely run the railway in the mountainous terrain.
When the time came to replace additional legacy communications infrastructure in 2020, RhB again selected Hitachi Energy to support the continued modernization process of the entire RhB communications network. Under the new assignment, Hitachi Energy is supplying mission-critical communications products, coupled with commissioning and system integration services by on-site expert technical teams. The project is scheduled to run through 2026.
The importance of centralized communications
As the operator of one of the world’s most scenic railways, RhB needed to ensure millions of annual passengers could enjoy their journeys in comfort and safety. For their modern, digitalized communications systems, this meant combining multi-generational and multi-technology features to ensure a 100% stable network with unwavering operational availability, which met the primary objective of delivering data traffic to RhB operations teams so they could monitor activity throughout the network. To improve this capability, RhB sought to install a new, application-specific network management system (NMS) and construct new fiber-optic rings to provide reliability and redundancy, enabling teams to fulfill a variety of tasks in their safety systems with the existing hardware.
At the same time, RhB was interested in consolidating train servicing resources into a centralized operational control center to provide a more collaborative environment for the dispatch operators and a much more comprehensive view of the entire railway network.
To meet these goals, the team would have to introduce and prove the viability of many new technologies and systems capable of performing flawlessly in the harsh mountain environment – and have them implemented without disruption. One of the key criteria for eliminating disruption was selecting a trusted and reliable supplier for innovative products and system integration.
|100% application-specific & adapted to customer needs
|Continuity of staff since day one of the project in 2013
|100+ years of experience in mission-critical communications
|Guaranteed operations even in extremely harsh environment
|OPTIMIZED TOTAL COST OF OWNERS HIP
|Easy integration of new and legacy nodes into UNEM
|Seamless integration of legacy and state-of-the-art interfaces
“The project will run until 2026 and has several highlights. From the competent and professional advice, to the very good technical support, to the implementation of the customer-friendly solutions, we recommend Hitachi Energy’s technical team in charge of the project.”