Inmarsat launches solution for the rail industry

06 May 2020: A new Inmarsat Rail Telemetry and Communications Solution for the global rail industry provides real-time data transfer and push-to-talk (PTT) communications to connect drivers and railway staff working in remote areas across the globe, to drive operational efficiencies and improve the overall safety of the railway.

Railways are more critical than ever in supporting the global movement of goods in remote areas. However; there are many challenges facing today’s railway operators, including optimising network capacity, carrying out vital maintenance work, improving health and safety and minimising the impact of adverse weather conditions.

These are exacerbated in large regions where sections of the railway pass through black spots – areas of minimal or zero cellular network coverage – when railway staff are unable to communicate, or send and receive any data from trains to the control centre, leading to inefficiencies and potentially safety concerns.

Industry-leading reliability

The new Rail Telemetry and Communications Solution leverages our Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), which offers industry-leading reliability of up to 99.9% uptime. Low form factor satellite terminals, such as the new Cobham EXPLORER 323, are mounted on locomotives providing real-time GPS, telemetry and PTT capabilities anywhere in the world.

This means control centres can efficiently and safely monitor and schedule the movement of locomotives, rolling stock and goods across an entire rail network, while enabling communications with crew wherever they are located.

Steven Tompkins, Director of Sector Development at Inmarsat, commented: “Inmarsat’s new Rail Telemetry and Communications Solution builds on projects with leading rail operators in Latin America and development work with our hardware and service provider partners. We are confident the solution provides the most reliable data and communications service for train companies, and will lead to a paradigm shift in the safety and efficiency of remote rail operations.”

Switching process

The Cobham PRISM PTT+ solution integrates easily into the locomotive’s existing radio, so the rail operator doesn’t have to get rid of their existing trusted equipment.

PRISM PTT+, a service powered by Cobham SATCOM’s innovative PRISM (Private Routing & Intelligent System Management) technology enables the BGAN PTT Solution to switch between connectivity types such as UHF or VHF, 3G/4G and satellite making the solution cost-effective and easy to use. The switching process is unique in the market because it is completely seamless and offers an economical approach to voice communications.

“As well as being relied on to transfer critical data in real-time, Inmarsat’s Rail Telemetry and Communications Solution is unique in providing a PTT voice communication feature that can switch between connectivity types seamlessly, without any lag in reconnection,” continued Tompkins.

Complete confidence

“This provides operators complete confidence that data will always be transferred, the latest technology on board will stay operational and voice communications with drivers and crew can be maintained wherever the train is located.”

Henrik Nørrelykke, Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing, Cobham, said “Cobham SATCOM is excited to work with Inmarsat to launch the new Rail Telemetry and Communications Solution. Utilising the Cobham EXPLORER Mobile Gateway, the PRISM PTT+ solution enables easy integration into any existing radio equipment, making it simple for organisations across a range of industries to upgrade their trusted 2-way radio capabilities.”

Find out more about our industry-leading work with the rail sector.