A one-year study by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has determined that optical fibre is suitable for use on rolling stock.

During the trial, SBB tested a variety of connectivity components for gigabit networks on trains, including fibre optic cables, connectors and databus cables from HUBER+SUHNER. All products tested passed with excellent results.

With ever-increasing data usage demands due to new, complex multimedia applications, train networks in the future will require at least ten times the bandwidth than is currently being delivered. In response to this development, the SBB has installed a gigabit ethernet network in a railway vehicle.

The network was tested over a one-year period, enabling SBB to test the technologies and products already available on the market.

HUBER+SUHNER supplied a number of two and four-core fibre optic cables and QODC connectors for the trial, as well as its RADOX® RAILCAT Cat7 databus cables. With the help of these components, the train was equipped with a test network, which included 24 surveillance cameras, a passenger information system including twelve screens and six LED displays, as well as an intercom system.

As future video surveillance systems are likely to operate with higher video resolution, SBB assumed that bandwidth requirements would be likely to increase even more in the future. SBB also took into consideration the possible future installation of an infotainment system. This would also create greater amounts of data which would need to be handled.

SBB’s report cites very positive results and confirmed that handling the fibre connections and plug-in connectors was extremely straightforward. The cables were comparatively thin and could be installed with relatively tight bending radius. HUBER+SUHNER’s fibre optic inter-vehicle jumper cables showed no signs of damage, water leakage or moisture.

The connections showed no visible signs of ageing, so that it could be assumed they would function reliably over a longer period of time. In addition SBB confirmed that the use of fibre optic technology presented no greater risk than the previously used copper cables.

HUBER+SUHNER market manager Eric Louis-Marie says: "We are very pleased with the SBB test results.

"The deployment of fibre optic cables in railway vehicles is still being carefully observed in the railway market despite the fact that we have completed large, successful reference projects all over the world and we can therefore rely on long-term experience. The SBB’s test results are further confirmation that our railway products can fulfil future requirements."

In conclusion, HUBER+SUHNER’s RADOX® backbone and inter-vehicle jumper cables, and its CAT7 databus connectors, provide robust products that enable the building of reliable gigabit networks in trains.