The obligation to so-called hardening of the train radio of rail vehicles has been suspended. As the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said heise online when asked, the specification of DB Netz AG will be suspended. This was decided on November 23, 2022.
Actually, almost all traction vehicles and locomotives that are supposed to operate in the Deutsche Bahn network should have GSM-R radio systems, with which there is no risk of interference from mobile phones in the LTE-900 network. This does not only apply to Deutsche Bahn vehicles. For December 11, 2022, the next timetable change, the requirement should apply that – with a few exceptions – only hardened vehicles drive in the network.
The reason for this decision is the lack of hardened train radio in more than 1,000 vehicles, according to the Federal Network Agency. “A route-related consideration made no sense given the high number of affected vehicles and their flexible use in the German railway network.” Originally, the railways said that individual exceptions could be granted in the event of “objective impossibility” for new equipment.
According to the BNetzA, the ban on access would also have affected critical vehicles “which are needed to ensure the energy supply this and coming winter.
Next attempt to change the timetable in 2024
With the help of hardening, network operators could also have activated LTE 900 base stations close to the track systems without a special permit. That’s history for now. Vehicle operators now have until December 14, 2024 to adapt their vehicles to the requirements. This is done in order to protect the “grandfathering interests of the railway companies and leasing companies”.
However, the BNetzA also leaves a way open to allow LTE 900 on railway lines from December 10, 2023. However, this requires the least possible disruption and agreement between the parties involved.
Then the expansion of mobile communications on the long-range LTE 900 band could also begin on railway lines. This band is an important component for the expansion promised by Vodafone and Telekom by 2025 and 2026 respectively.
Discussions at important international connections
In railroad circles there were before some discussions to a possible ban on access Three-system trains ETR 610 (Trenitalia) and the related RABe 503 (SBB), which in Germany run as ECE (Eurocity Express) connecting Frankfurt am Main with Milano Centrale and Munich with Zurich.
Both lines have long routes in Germany, so an exception would severely restrict the LTE 900 expansion anyway. Deutsche Bahn has not yet provided any information in this regard. The company has not yet responded to an inquiry about the situation with the affected series, which are at least operated in cooperation.