Replacement of Iarnród Éireann national transmission network and upgrade to underlying fibre infrastructure to drive more efficient rail traffic management.
Iarnród Éireann has awarded two contracts worth a combined €11m to Meath firm EMR Integrated Solutions to as part of a major upgrade of the organisation’s existing fibre infrastructure and the deployment of a new national transmission network.
Based on technology manufactured by OTN, the new transmission network will support Iarnród Éireann’s operational traffic delivering high-speed, packetised data to level crossings, railway signalling, CCTV, customer kiosks and more. It will also underpin the new National Train Control Centre, due for launch in early 2024.
“Projects such as the Dart+ programme, designed to extend Dart services in the Greater Dublin Area or the National Train Control Centre simply couldn’t happen without the new transmission network”
The fibre upgrade will boost existing network traffic capacity and allow Iarnród Éireann to run two networks in parallel, supporting migration away from the legacy transmission system without any business disruption.
Efficient traffic management
Both projects will enable more efficient rail traffic management, deliver increased frequency and improve journey times for passengers.
The initiatives are an integral part of Project Ireland 2040, a major investment programme, which will see the role of rail services maximised to meet the needs of communities, the wider economy and environment.
“Projects such as the Dart+ programme, designed to extend Dart services in the Greater Dublin Area or the National Train Control Centre simply couldn’t happen without the new transmission network,” said Thomas Quigley, telecommunications technical manager, Signalling, Electrical and Telecommunications Department at Iarnród Éireann/
“The solution proposed by EMR and its technology partners met and, in some cases, surpassed our requirements. Their methodology of maintaining the legacy system while building the new network was the most practical and suited our capital investment model best. Additionally, as a local company, their support is very responsive and commensurate with a piece of critical national infrastructure.”
“Our approach to the project was based on protecting existing investment, providing a cost-effective technological migration to next generation optical & data networks whilst making the transition to the new infrastructure as seamless as possible,” explained Alan Feenan, sales director with EMR Integrated Solutions.
“We supply staged product by building and configuring devices in our technical workshop, ship them to Iarnród Éireann and then assist with commissioning where required. Iarnród Éireann can draw down up to 1,000 man hours of technical expertise to assist with deployment and this collaborative effort will result in project objectives being realised over time.”
The first step in the upgrade is to increase capacity on the existing fibre network to facilitate the parallel build. A Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM)* telecoms network will be deployed to ‘sweat’ the existing fibre pairs, delivering better fibre utilisation and negating the need to perform a large-scale, physical fibre replacement.
The national transmission network, which currently stretches over 2,000 km in length will be upgraded from legacy technology to MPLS-TP, a packet-based transport protocol designed to speed up and shape network traffic for Infrastructure Providers, supporting IP-based networking services such as video at CCTV at level crossings or customer kiosks, better traffic management at the National Train Control Centre whilst continuing to support the legacy systems that are in service across the railway.
“This project will give us an operational network that’s more reliable and more available,” said Quigley.
“It’s a massive change in terms of how we’ll be able to manage the rail network into the future, delivering a more positive customer experience. That’s good news for all of our stakeholders.”
Main image at top: Jan Hendrickx, regional sales manager, OTN, Thomas Quigley, telecommunications technical manager, Signalling, Electrical and Telecommunications Department at Iarnród Éireann; and Alan Feenan, sales director, EMR