Posted 17 April 2023 in Concurrent Design, News, Security.
  • RHEA System GmbH is part of a European consortium developing the Hybrid Space-Ground Communication Network for European Rail Systems (HSGR).
  • HSGR aims to provide safe and secure connectivity solutions to modernize European rail systems.
  • HSGR is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) 4.0 programme and is supported by the French and German space agencies.

Railway operators and infrastructure managers face the challenge of needing to provide connectivity everywhere. Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) will gradually replace the Global System for Mobile Communication-Railway (GSM-R) between now and 2035, which will pose both a 5G-related challenge and provide the opportunity to leverage a variety of communication bearers to cover the entire railway network. This upgrade will contribute to the enablement of railway applications such as autonomous trains, European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) signalling and predictive maintenance.

RHEA System GmbH is part of a Franco-German consortium developing a Hybrid Space-Ground Communication Network for European Rail Systems (HSGR) awarded by European Space Agency (ESA). The project is led by Airbus Defence & Space with consortium members DB Engineering & Consulting GmbH, SNCF SA and RHEA System GmbH.

HSGR is an ARTES 4.0 project co-funded by the French and German space agencies CNES and DLR and the consortium members. It is a complementary binational cooperation between railway operators and communications and cybersecurity industrialists. The network aims to provide a viable and robust solution for integrated satellite-terrestrial, safety-critical operational communication services for the German Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF). The system will incorporate a traffic control system, real-time communication of sensor data and CCTV-related communication for autonomous trains.

HSGR aims to overcome challenges in the FRMCS implementation, thanks to the provision of a multi-bearer solution integrating heterogeneous communication technologies, to complement the European railway operators’ existing GSM-R and 4G/5G networks for their safety-critical and operational train connectivity. The HSGR consortium members will combine the expertise of European communications and cybersecurity industry leaders with leading European railway operators. In this framework, Airbus’s bearer-agnostic smart routing solution of public/private and satcom/terrestrial networks at the application level will be adapted to the rail environment and tested.

The project is incremental and contains two phases from baseline concept to extended scope. ‘Step A’ is a proof-of-concept level study, including a pilot demonstration using Airbus’s mobile demonstration vehicle to ensure that the baseline rail use case scenarios have been covered. The purpose of ’Step B’ will be to validate the system architecture by testing the envisaged system functionalities and demonstrating end-to-end seamless IP connectivity through hybrid satellite-terrestrial networks in a full-scale rail testing environment thanks to the DB and SNCF train labs.

Jim Cater, Vice-President for RHEA Germany, said: “This is a very exciting project for RHEA to be involved in. It was awarded to demonstrate the depth and breadth of European cooperation between railway operators and communications and cybersecurity industrialists. Within the project RHEA is providing its concurrent design and security-by-design methodologies, and its cyber-range capabilities.”

HSGR was officially kicked off with ESA on 17 January 2023.