Paris, 22 February 2023 – Railway operators and infrastructure managers face the challenge of needing to provide connectivity everywhere. FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System) will gradually replace GSM-R between now and 2035, and provide the opportunity to leverage a variety of communication bearers to cover the entire railway network, thus contributing to the enablement of railway applications such as autonomous trains, ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) signaling and predictive maintenance.

The Hybrid Space-Ground Communication Network for European Rail Systems project has been awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to a Franco-German consortium led by Airbus Defence & Space and containing DB Engineering & Consulting GmbH, SNCFSA and RHEA SystemGmbH. HSGR is an ARTES 4.0 (Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems) project co-funded by the French and German space agencies, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES),Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), and the consortium members. It is a complementary binational cooperation between railway operators and communications & cybersecurity industrialists.

HSGR aims to overcome challenges in the implementation of FRMCS, thanks to the provision of a multi-bearer solution integrating heterogeneous communication technologies. HSGR will complement the European Railway operators’ existing GSM-R and 4G/5G networks for their safety, enabling critical and operational train connectivity. 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 are covered. The purpose of ’Step B’ will be to validate the system architecture, by testing the planned 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.

Work on the HSGR project officially began alongside ESA on January 17, 2023.