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How to Specify Rail-Industry Ethernet Networks: Five Key Considerations and Why Connectors Are Critical
Data demands are exceeding what legacy technology can handle. See why more train manufacturers and system integrators are moving towards Ethernet
Roberto Bonacina, Global Product Manager at ITT Veam
Bandwidth Needs Are on the Rise
The rail industry’s accelerating demand for higher bandwidth requirements has outpaced what the existing Train Communication Network (TCN) standard for data communication can provide.
Designed for real-time applications, the TCN standard is a hierarchical combination of two fieldbus systems: a wire train bus (WTB), which connects the equipment within a vehicle, and a multifunction vehicle bus (MVB), which connects the vehicles. This solution became the standard thanks to its low cost, extreme reliability, and simplicity. With WTB and MVB, there’s no risk of message collision, and when something does go wrong, it’s a quick fix.
On-board surveillance, information, and entertainment systems increase railway bandwidth demands.
Even so, a proliferation of new sensors, on-board processing equipment, and other electronic systems have flooded the rail transportation industry in recent years, causing bandwidth requirements to skyrocket well beyond what any fieldbus can provide.
In response, leading global train manufacturers have begun to supplement legacy systems with Ethernet technology. Currently, Ethernet is primarily used for on-board video surveillance and information or entertainment systems, while most other systems still function off separate TCN fieldbus interconnection networks.
The Full-Ethernet Train is on its Way
Soon, Ethernet will replace TCN entirely. It will carry all data types needed for control, security, and passenger information, ranging from announcements to propulsion and lighting.
Ethernet technology provides unlimited network length and reliability, with speeds surpassing 1Gb/s (compared to TCN’s 1Mb/s). This high level of performance is also available from off-the-shelf products, eliminating the higher customization, maintenance, and replacement costs typical of rail-specific network equipment.
Five Key Considerations for Specifying Rail-Industry Ethernet Networks
Interested in upgrading your network? Follow these five steps to ensure a smooth, cost-effective transition.

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