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Radio Communication  
 
 
GSM-R: the European train radio system for today and tomorrow
 
GSM for railways (GSM-R) is a radio communication system offering a wide range of voice and data services needed for daily operation of railways. GSM-R provides telephony, SMS and data services, as in public GSM networks. On top of that railway specific features are added, such as group communication, location dependent addressing, priority levels, railway emergency calls, shunting communication, etcetera, in order to facilitate communication between train driver and traffic control centres. GSM-R is also the data communication bearer for the European Train Control System (ETCS), in particular for the Level 2 and Level 3. GSM-R is fully defined in ETSI standards.
 
From 2000, GSM-R has been introduced all over Europe as a common standard for railway operations essential to interoperability, as well as in many other parts of the world. Expansion of the GSM-R implementation is still ongoing.
 
GSM-R is included in the European railway legislative framework since 2001 as the only mandatory radio system, i.e. ensuring interoperability for operational voice communication and (ETCS) data implementations. The Agency acts as System Authority and is responsible for the documents that are included in the legal framework. For more details see Current Legal Reference.
 
GSM-R networks have to coexist with other public mobile network technologies such as 3G and 4G, which may result in a risk of issues due to interferences. The Agency, together with DG MOVE, DG Connect and the railway sector, is well aware and mobilised about this issue; relevant information can be found in Interferences Information.
 
The future
The involved suppliers have indicated that they will support GSM-R technology and GSM-R products at least until 2030. Taking into account the time needed to deploy another radio system to mitigate the risk of GSM-R obsolescence, the Agency has launched a Project to investigate the options for a smooth transition from GSM-R to a next generation system. The Agency will advise the European Commission on the possible impact of the introduction of a new railway radio communication on the current EU regulatory framework. To prepare its recommendation, the Agency is following the latest developments on telecommunication evolution, and monitoring several standardisation/ working groups (in particular at ETSI, ECC and UIC). For more information see The Project on evolution of railway radio.