VIRVE selected as radio system for trains

The radio system for rail transport is to be changed. There are moves to stop using the current GSM-R network and to switch over to the authority network VIRVE. The Cabinet Committee for Economic Policy discussed the matter on 9 January.

Finland currently uses the RAILI network as the radio system for rail transport, which is a GSM-R network set up in accordance with EU legislation. However, interference from commercial networks causes problems in the use of GSM-R telephones. Meanwhile, the use of the GSM-R network weakens reception of mobile communications networks on trains. In addition, the network systems are becoming obsolete. The current GSM-R network would have to be completely rebuilt by the end of 2018.

Work is being done at the EU level to find a successor to the present GSM-R radio system. The Government feels that it would be most appropriate and least expensive to shift over to using the VIRVE authority network pending a decision at the EU level on a new system.

The investment and running costs of the VIRVE network would be significantly lower than those which would be incurred from continuing to use GSM-R, in upgrading the radio network and the communications system for traffic managers.

As GSM-R is the only option under EU legislation for a new radio system in rail transport, Finland plans to ask the Commission for an exception to allow the introduction of the VIRVE radio system. Finland can start to transition to the VIRVE network as soon as a request for an exception has been put to the Commission. The Finnish Transport Agency plans to take the VIRVE radio system into use as quickly as possible, in accordance with the decision made by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, actors in rail transport, telecommunications companies, and offices of the transport and communications field conferred in 2013 to examine ways of improving the audibility of mobile communications on trains. The matter was examined at the request of the Transport Division of the Parliamentary Finance Committee. The primary goal was the elimination of interference on commercial mobile communications networks of telecommunications companies and the railways’ own mobile communications network. One of the options under investigation was that the Finnish Transport Agency and VR would decide to start using the authority network VIRVE as a replacement to the railways’ GSM-R network.

Further information:
Director of Unit Risto Murto, tel. +358 295 34 2639
Director of Unit Olli-Pekka Rantala, tel. +358 295 34 2585

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