Andrew, a division of CommScope, aa global leader in wireless communication systems and products, has signed a contract with Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland for providing radio frequency (RF) coverage solutions in the world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

Andrew will provision its ION-M multi-band, multi-operator fibre distributed antenna system and Radiax radiating cables to spread reliable, high-performance wireless coverage throughout the tunnel. Railway operators and emergency personnel will be primary users of the system, with GSM-R and PMR communications standards supported, while public 2G and 3G mobile network customers will also benefit with improved coverage.

"Railway systems rely on clear and constant communication among train engineers and control centers for smooth and safe operation," said Markus Kalt, vice president of business operations, EMEA, wireless innovations, Andrew. "Andrew is honoured to be chosen by Alcatel-Lucent for supplying the coverage solutions that help ensure such important exchanges."

Unique challenges in supporting railway communications in tunnels include the high-speed handoffs that are required as passengers zip through the tunnel. Gotthard Base Tunnel commuters will travel at speeds of up to 250km per hour. Andrew’s ION- M solution, which includes over 600 remote units for this project, is tuned to handle such quick hand-offs.

In addition to the Gotthard Base Tunnel’s main carriageway tunnel tubes, the railway system consists of numerous access and service tunnels totaling 153km in length. Andrew’s Radiax radiating cables will support the entire tunnel system.

AlpTransit Gotthard, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways, is constructing the Gotthard Base Tunnel as part of a new flat rail link through the Swiss Alps. With a length of 57km, the world’s longest tunnel should become operational at the end of 2017. Transtec Gotthard, a consortium of four industry leaders, has been contracted for the provisioning of the complete railway technology. Alcatel- Lucent Switzerland is the partner responsible for furnishing telecommunications and tunnel control technology.

"Being responsible for communications in the Gotthard Tunnel, we needed a versatile, multi-functional system that could handle essential, emergency, and commercial communications," said Marco Brugnoni, program manager, Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland. "Andrew has the proven experience in delivering reliable, quality equipment in such scenarios."

Andrew offers operators worldwide a complete portfolio of coverage and capacity products, including Node repeaters, indoor antennas, and passive devices, in addition to ION optical distribution systems and Radiax radiating cable. The company boasts over 15 years of experience in designing, testing, installing and managing complicated wireless signal distribution systems for metropolitan railways, tramways, and other large-sized construction projects.

Among numerous other projects, Andrew has previously been chosen to provide coverage and capacity for the Turin underground in advance of the 2006 Winter Olympics and for many of the 2006 World Cup venues in Germany.