For rail operators, passenger capacity and comfort are key. This means that modern train designs need to utilise as much space as possible inside and outside the carriage, leaving little room for roof mounted equipment, such as antennas. This is especially true for double-decker trains, which need plenty of space inside the carriage to keep both floors of passengers comfortable.

A challenge for rooftop antennas occurs when entering a tunnel. Bi-level rail cars, or double-decker trains, are especially popular across Europe, but their height often means there is minimal space between the train’s rooftop and the tunnel ceiling. Strict restrictions prevent carriage heights from exceeding set limits to ensure they complete their journeys safely. As a result, it is important that an antenna fits stringent gauging requirements.

Growing demands for high-speed data transfer

Fast and smooth connectivity is a vital component of the modern passenger experience, and antennas are required to provide this. Those travelling on the train require connectivity during their journey, whether this is to check their emails, stream videos, or start their day’s work during a lengthy commute. To keep up with this growing demand, HUBER+SUHNER has upgraded its SENCTIY Rail MIMO Low Profile rooftop antenna portfolio to be both 5G and Wi-Fi 6E ready.

This required redesigning the antenna elements to support both the 700 MHz LTE band, which offers wide area coverage, and the upcoming high throughput 5G mid band (3400-4200 MHz), in addition to the already supported bands of the predecessor antenna, without increasing the physical size or mounting interface. The new antenna now supports the n12, n13, n14, n28, n29, n46, n47, n48, n77, n78, n79, n83 and n96 bands, ensuring compatibility with the latest generation of 5G on-board routers. The new antenna is a direct upgrade to the existing antenna, allowing operators to add support for all services in the 694-7125 MHz range, including the full spectrum of the new Wi-Fi 6E bands.

Another improvement on the antenna is an upgraded embedded multi-band GNSS antenna, supporting not only the US based GPS system, but also Galileo, GLONASS and BeiDou. An additional variant has also been developed, giving operators the option to upgrade to a new dual-band GNSS, which supports the L1, L2 and L5 GNSS bands, ensuring access to the maximum number of data sources and the most accurate available signal at all times

True high voltage protection

Exposed to the elements, a rooftop antenna must be hardy and resistant against tough conditions. Our new low profile antenna inherits the same resistance to a high voltage environment, and features high current protection, meaning the antenna elements are designed to redirect the dangerous energy from the catenary line away from the RF path, ensuring maximum safety for passengers inside the train.

Trains encounter every kind of potential terrains, landscapes, and weather conditions, meaning rooftop antennas must be designed with these factors in mind. It is not uncommon for operators to apply silicone to the outer edge of a rooftop antenna, in order to protect the device against wet weather conditions. When silicone is applied, removing or replacing the antenna becomes difficult and complex, costing operators valuable time and money. Our low profile antenna tackles this by featuring its own secondary seal, which provides an extra layer of protection for electrical components and saves operators from making their own costly adaptations.

Easy upgrade, installation and international roll out

The SENCITY Rail MIMO Low Profile antenna uses the mounting interface, which is commonly used in the railway industry, making upgrading and switching the antenna simple. The mounting is the same as previous models in the HUBER+SUHNER SENCITY portfolio, with a maximum height of 40mm. It also uses the same common interface that the Kathrein rail antennas have been using for decades. When time is money, a swift and simple upgrade is vital for minimum interference and maintenance.

Rail operators must comply with specific regulations, depending on the countries they operate in. With worldwide certification of EN45545 and NFPA-130, the SENCITY Rail MIMO Low Profile antenna provides one less tricky decision for rail operators.

Future ready design

Our SENCITY Rail MIMO low profile antenna meets all the requirements for a high-quality train rooftop antenna, with a compact design that enables operators to provide connectivity, when height restrictions are a limiting factor.

Consistent mounting, compatibility with new technologies, and upgradeability of the SENCITY portfolio means operators can save time, money, and resources on complex maintenance and replacement of antennas. With the demand for broadband constantly reaching new heights, it is vital for operators to implement a future ready design that will allow them to keep up with new eras of internet, while ensuring their passengers remain satisfied.