Posted on October 31, 2012 · Posted in Scotland


Jason King, Project Manager GSM-R with Network Rail, gave an excellent presentation to the Scottish Area group on Wednesday 24 October. Jason explained that the abbreviation stood for “Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway”. The system is a secure digital network and is a subsystem of ERTMS important also in European interoperability issues. It is being introduced for a variety of reasons including obsolescence of existing systems (e.g. SMA and CSR) and to address safety issues such as matters arising from the Cowden accident.

National control equipment for the system is housed at central control points but Signallers and Controllers have terminals (Fixed Terminal Subsystems – FTS) and each driving cab has a “Driver’s Control Panel”. Great Britain operates with three levels of call, being “Normal”, “Urgent” and “Emergency”. The “Urgent” facility is unique to Great Britain and has been developed to address the fears of the performance effects of unnecessary emergency calls.
The system allows various contacts to be made including from Signaller to Driver, Driver to Driver, Signaller to train and group messages. Its use is governed by strict rules and regulations.

Various issues had been identified during the trial in the Glasgow area and have been addressed. These included the accidental use of the emergency button by Depot staff and the more technical issue of calls being misrouted. Much testing has been done on area coverage using Network Rail’s yellow test train. All new installations are designed with GSM-R integrated and there is a Great Britain roll out plan which will cover all of Network Rail’s routes except the RETB fitted areas which will be fitted with other communications technology.

All agreed that Jason’s talk had been technically learned and extremely well presented and interesting.