Iarnrod Eireann has contracted EMR Integrated Solutions to modernise its existing fibre infrastructure and implement a new national transmission network.

The national railway operator struck two contracts worth €11m with the wireless telecommunications firm.

Through the fibre upgrade, Iarnród Éireann aims to improve current network traffic capacity.

It will also enable the operator to run two networks in parallel, moving away from the legacy transmission system.

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The initial measure in the overhaul is to grow the current fibre network’s capacity to enable the parallel build.  

A Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) telecoms network will be used to ‘sweat’ the existing fibre pairs.

This is said to provide better fibre utilisation and eliminate the requirement for a large-scale, physical fibre replacement.

The project is expected to result in more frequency, enhance travel times, and facilitate more efficient management of railway traffic.

The new transmission network will be based on OTN’s technology.

It will support operational traffic offering ‘high-speed, packetised data’ to railway signalling, CCTV, level crossings, and more. 

The current network will be modernised from legacy technology to MPLS-TP, a packet-based transport protocol to expedite network traffic for infrastructure providers.

MPLS-TP transports data at level 2 switching instead of level 3 routing layers.

It will also support the new National Train Control Centre scheduled for launch in early 2024.

The initiatives are a key part of the Project Ireland 2040 investment programme, which will maximise the role of rail services to serve communities, environment, and the broader economy.

Iarnród Éireann telecommunications technical manager, Signalling, Electrical and Telecommunications Department Thomas Quigley said: “The solution proposed by EMR and its technology partners met and, in some cases, surpassed our requirements. Their methodology of maintaining the legacy system while building the new network was the most practical and suited our capital investment model best.”