Nationwide Railway communications network

July 22, 2021

Customer: PKP Railways
Location: Poland
Partners: Nokia / ATDI / FONON / Spc2


A consortium led by Nokia was awarded a contract by PKP, the Polish rail infrastructure organisation, to deploy a nationwide turnkey GSM-R network and mission-critical backhaul network to improve railway security and reliability.

As part of that project, ATDI was responsible for the network design and planning. This included a 13,800km GSM-R network and an 11,000km optical fibre-based backhaul transmission network. Both were upgraded to support improved applications like messaging and other third party products.

As part of the project outline, contracts had to ensure the network build did not impact the surrounding population or natural environment. 

Part 1 – Backbone Transmission Network:

Nokia was awarded the infrastructure equipment contract for the railway network. To support this, ATDI designed a country-wide backbone transmission network for the GSM-R network. This optical fibre network consisted of 12-node Photonic service switches and 29 line Photonic service amplifiers. The network was based on DWDM technology and was equipped with IP routers and switches. The network was synchronized by time provider devices.

The ATDI team designed the three-phased network with ease.

  1. Creation and import of map data for the designated area;
  2. The input of network parameters and use of the appropriate propagation models. The radio network coverage calculations used HTZ Communications' automation functions; 
  3. Ensure the network did not exceed emissions or unduly impact the area surrounding the railway line. 


The ATDI team analysed and planned a total of 3883.71km of line. This included:

  • Length of railway lines with ETCS L2 [km] 1927.86 
  • Length of railway lines without ETCS L2 [km] 1955.85 

In addition, they were able to create:

  • Total number of OR 631) 
  • Number of OR on lines with ETCS L2 413) 
  • Number of OR on lines without ETCS L2 219) 
  • Average distance between neighbouring OR for all the lines [km] 6.155 
  • Average distance between neighbouring OR for the lines with ETCS L2 [km] 4.668
  • Average distance between neighbouring OR for the lines without ETCS L2 [km] 8.930


The network rollout was successful. It complied with the environmental restrictions specified: 

  • Protection of population from emissions and EMF; 
  • Protection of natural areas according to NATURA 2000. These guidelines protect the largest coordinated network of areas in the World and offer a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species.

Part 2 – network infrastructure rollout

The second stage was to build the communications network infrastructure. This was contracted to WASKO and Pozbud, who commenced design and construction in 2018. The five-year project included the installation of the telecom infrastructure, including the framework to connect radio objects with the PKP infrastructure. The project consisted of a cable duct system or cable pipelines combined with an optic fibre cable overlaid. 

The project incurred some teething problems, including delays associated with rolling out a large rail network in a short space of time. The project teams had to manage multiple facets of the project consecutively and managed issues such as:

  • Ensure the project conformed with safeguarding areas of outstanding natural beauty and conservation;
  • Manage the legal status of real estate;
  • Traversing over watercourses;
  • Legal issues relating to construction of infrastructure;
  • Balancing the needs of individual railway region requirements.

About the Partners:

FONON are a design, construction and maintenance company operating in the telecommunications market. The company specialises in broadband networks and undertakes the implementation of country-wide networks.

Pozbud (SPC2)

Part 3 – VHF radio upgrade

In conjunction with EGIS Consulting, ATDI planned two VHF 150MHz radio networks; the first for the modernisation of the line from Chabówka to Nowy Sącz, Poland and the second for a radio network plan for a new line from Podłęże – Szczyrzyc – Tymbark / Mszana Dolna, Poland.  

The project demanded the collection and modification of map data for areas of interest, as designated by PKP. This was to ensure that areas of outstanding beauty or nature conservation were not impacted by the network infrastructure. 


The two VHF networks formed part of a country-wide digital GSM-R network. The network plans included:

-             site locations and parameters for the base stations; 

-             optimal locations for base stations and their associated parameters. 

As both radio networks formed part of the same rail network, ATDI collocated base stations to support both systems to minimise the equipment and construction costs. The rail network covers over 100km and includes 13 tunnels, including a leaky feeder system. ATDI modelled coverage for each tunnel in the network, including the leaky feeder system.


The main design tasks included:

  • design of the GSM-R network for each railway section, including interference analysis and the channel planning, handover analysis, and the Best Server analysis. Network coverage and capacity were also considered;
  • design of indoor coverage for the tunnels including the Leaky Feeder system;
  • prepare high-resolution map data;
  • consider changes to the buildings and land developments for the newly planned segments;
  • ensure the network plans complied with the end user’s requirement to protect special areas;
  • create a plan of the PKP infrastructure, including an independent model for each tunnel;
  • select suitable calculation methods and boundary conditions;
  • identify appropriate parameters for the devices;
  • execute the link budgets;
  • optimise the network to ensure it achieves the required range including inside selected buildings.

About the Partners

EGIS Consulting specialises in infrastructure for transport, municipalities, environmental protection and the construction industry. Specifically, they manage large projects for the road and rail sectors from design through to construction. EGIS employ consultants with extensive experience in engineering, economics and finance.

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