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Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE/ASME Joint Rail Conference

April 22-23, 2008, Wilmington, Delaware, USA


Simon F. Ruesche
Institute of Communications Technology
Leibniz Universitt Hannover
Hannover, Germany

Jan Steuer
Institute of Communications Technology
Leibniz Universitt Hannover
Hannover, Germany



Klaus Jobmann
Institute of Communications Technology
Leibniz Universitt Hannover
Hannover, Germany

The European Rail Transport Management System
(ERTMS) was introduced by the European Union (EU) to
harmonize the nearly 18 different national train control systems
which are currently in use, to accelerate the interoperability of
the passenger- and freight-transport and, finally, to increase the
utilization of tracks by dynamic train control. The essential
components of ERTMS are the train-specific, cellular,
professional mobile radio system GSM-R (GSM-Railway) and
the so-called European Train Control System (ETCS) which
provides, by its second expansion stage (ETCS Level 2), the
control- and signalling-information between the train and the
related control location via GSM-R in a connection-oriented
and wireless way. This wireless and connection-oriented
approach will be the bottleneck of the system, which
considerably limits the possible number of voice- and dataconnections in each cell at the same time and will cause a
deadlock of the system, if the number of users will rapidly
increase (e.g. accidents, freight depots, lines with a high and
dynamic volume of traffic). Within this paper the first part of a
packet-switched approach is presented to counteract this
expected deadlock by taking into account that the GSM-R
infrastructure, which is often already installed by the national
railroad operators, also should be used to save the high capital
investment of those companies.

The European Rail Transport Management System
(ERTMS) was introduced by the European Union (EU) to
harmonize the nearly 18 different train control systems which
are currently in use in the EU, to accelerate the interoperability
of the passenger- and freight-transport and, finally, to increase
the utilization of tracks by dynamic train control. The essential
components of ERTMS are the train-specific, cellular,
professional mobile radio system GSM-R (GSM-Railway) and
the so-called European Train Control System (ETCS) which
provides, by its second expansion stage (ETCS Level 2), the
control- and signalling-information between the train and the
related control location via GSM-R in a connection-oriented
and wireless way. This wireless and connection-oriented
approach will be the bottleneck of the system, which
considerably limits the possible number of voice- and dataconnections in each cell at the same time and will cause a
deadlock of the system, if the number of users will rapidly
increase. Regarding this fact in special operations scenarios
(e.g. accidents, freight depots, lines with a high and dynamic
volume of traffic) this connection-oriented system will not
ensure the availability of voice-, data- and managementservices at the same time and the same level of priority.
Regarding this fact a packet-switched approach should be

Copyright 2008 by ASME

analyzed to counteract this expected deadlock by taking into

account that the GSM-R infrastructure, which is often already
installed by the national railroad operators, also should be used
to save the high capital investment of these railroad operators.
Nevertheless one often referred solution might be the use of the
so-called General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) [1]. To insure
that this enhanced environment will increase the efficiency of
the ERTMS, the service infrastructure of ETCS, based on
GPRS, must be simulated and the results must be compared
with the current capabilities of GSM-R. Currently our ETCSworkgroup develops and implements an enhanced simulation
environment, so-called GPRS-R, to analyze those topics. The
development process of this simulation environment, which
started in early 2007, consists of the following seven
consecutive, but mainly modular, steps:

GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module

GPRS-R Handover Module
ETCS-QoS Evaluation Module
GPRS-R Air Interface Module
Rail Mobility Module
ETCS Communication Module

The following paper contains a briefly technical overview

for a common understanding of the main topics, describes the
concept of each single simulation module mentioned before
and, finally, documents the results of the workgroup regarding
the first module to evaluate the feasibility of this aim in
The ERTMS consists of two main components. The first
one is more focused to the signalling protocols: The European
Train Control System (ETCS), whose main goal is to allow the
coordination between trains and hence to define dynamically
the requirements and limitations of every train connected to the
network. The main important task of ETCS is to define the
maximum speed allowed in a specific time. Some possible
reasons might be that the maximum speed in some areas is
restricted or the distance between two consecutive trains is too
small, so the speed must be decreased. ETCS can also ask the
driver to stop the train in case of connection loss or for
emergency reasons. The ETCS signalling system has the
following three main application levels.
ETCS Level 1 The first level consists on a network of
balises (more concretely called Eurobalises) placed along the
track and connected to the control center via wired links. These
balises provide the position and speed information of the trains
while crossing them. Then the control center calculates the
braking curves, speed limits and other required parameters for
the trains in its controlled area. Those parameters are sent back
to the trains via those balises, too, or via the classical visual

signals along the track. That implies that the first

implementation level can not only subsist but also interact with
the already implemented signalling systems.
ETCS Level 2 The second level provides the same
principle as the first one, but the communication with the
control center is established via a wireless infrastructure, the
announced GSM-R system. The connection is set between the
train and the Radio Block Center (RBC). The implementation
of this connection means that the data is updated almost in real
time, since the train has not to wait until the next set of balises
to get the information back. Moreover, in this level, much less
classical signals must be supported. That means that the
implementation costs will decrease essentially und the train
control itself will become more dynamically.
ETCS Level 3 The highest implementation level uses the
same communication concepts than the second one, but now
the calculation of route parameters are made in the same train
cabins on-board computer. Also the positioning will be done
transited. As a future application, this application level in
common with the European positioning system Galileo, when
totally deployed, will allow a real-time positioning along the
track, and therefore an absolute automatic train control system.
The other main part of the ERTMS project is the GSM-R
radio system (Global System for Mobile Communication Railway). Among many other possibilities, the nowadays
classic and therefore cost-reduced GSM system has been
selected for that ambitious integrated project ERTMS. Today
not only the ETCS Level 2 signalling is provided via GSM-R,
but also the professional mobile communications systems of
nearly all European railroad operators is established via GSMR. Thus, the intercommunication of the railway networks on a
European level, as well as the possibility of new on-board
services may be possible in a few years. GSM-R was
standardized for the frequency bands of 876 MHz up to 915
MHz regarding the uplink between the mobile station (MS) and
the base transceiver station (BTS) and 921 MHz up to 960
MHz regarding the downlink transmission. These frequency
bands include the public GSM frequency bands [2]. The exact
frequency bands which are allowed to be used by the different
national railroad operators in every country are distributed by
the national regulation authorities. For example in Germany the
GSM-R uplink band is assigned between 876,2 MHz and 880,0
MHz and the GSM-R downlink band is assigned 921,2 MHz
between 925,0 MHz. Regarding this fact 19 channels of 200
kHz each are available for the uplink and also 19 channels of
200 kHz each for the downlink. Additionally GSM-R is also
specified for speeds up to 500 km/h. This is realized by very
small mobile cells with a maximum radius of 2-3 km and nearly
a constantly line of sight connection (LOS) between the MS
and the BTS. A simplified GSM-R infrastructure is presented in
the following Fig. 1.

Copyright 2008 by ASME







infrastructure. The major differences between a packet-oriented

GPRS infrastructure and a connection-oriented GSM
infrastructure consist in two further network elements which
are described as follows.








Figure 1: GSM-R Infrastructure

As seen, former pilot tests for ETCS monitoring, carried
out by the European Railway Agency (ERA), have shown the
effectiveness and robustness of the GSM-R system and have
placed it as one of its constitute-standards [3]. So, once the
GSM-R system is established and well proved, it is time to
improve the use of more advanced applications. In public
wireless networks the packet-switched General Packet Radio
Service (GPRS) was used to increase the possibilities of the
already existing wireless infrastructure. Currently the amount
of data used for signalling within connection-oriented ETCS
Level 2 environment is very small and in most cases there are
no transmissions for a long time interval. However, the
classical GSM scheme keeps the transmission channel busy,
due to its circuit-switched behaviour. A full GSM channel is
reserved for each transmission channel used. Supplementary
services, e.g. operational communications, are thus limited and
the use of the bandwidth is not the really efficient. A deadlock
of the system will occur if the number of parallel ETCS Level 2
controlled trains will be on the track. With GPRS the
transmission channel is only used when data must be
transmitted. Moreover, the connection establishment times are
decreased, and the priority levels assigned to the data packets
provide even more reliability regarding critical applications [4].
Now that it is out in the open that GPRS is supposed to
substantially improve the transmission efficiency of a GSM-Rbased system, as well as its reliability, the interest should stay
on the knowledge of that 2.5 Generation communications
system. Omitting the commercial 2.5G common noun, GPRS
should be considered as a third generation mobilecommunications system that has the particularity of being
compatible with the globally-extended GSM networks. Its
principle aims to be simple: Building a data-oriented system
which re-uses as much as possible of the existing voiceoriented system, GSM-R, and keeping its compatibility. That
means that its implementation and adoption is reachable in a
short period of time, in places in which GSM-R is already
established. Although that system is not as efficient as the code
division access used by UMTS systems, it allows the
transmission through a GSM Base Station Subsystem (BSS)
with no changes in the infrastructure. Nevertheless some
additions must be made regarding the classical GSM-R
network. The following Fig. 2 presents a classical GPRS





Figure 2: GPRS Infrastructure

The Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) is responsible
for the delivery of data packets from and to the mobile stations
within its geographical service area. Its tasks include packetrouting and packet-transfer, the mobility management, the
logical link management and, finally, the authentication and
charging functions.
The Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) acts as an
interface between the GPRS backbone network and the external
packet data networks. It converts the GPRS packets coming
from the SGSN, mentioned before, into the appropriate Packet
Data Protocol (PDP) format and sends them out on the
corresponding packet data network. In the other direction, the
addresses of incoming data packets are converted to the GSM
address of the destination user. The re-addressed packets are
sent to the responsible SGSN.
Once GPRS is activated, a virtual continuous connection
between the network participants (e.g. train and RBC) is
established. During a session, a user is assigned to one pair of
uplink and downlink frequency channels. This is combined
with time domain statistical multiplexing, i.e. packet mode
communication, which provides the common use of one
frequency for several users. Only if information (e.g. ETCS
telegrams) must be transmitted, the radio link will be reserved
by a user. In fact, one of the highest problems for data
transmissions in standard GSM is the limited size of the data
fields on each slot. GPRS fixes that inconvenience by using 4
consecutive GSM data slots, which constitute a 456 bit GPRS
data block. Once this block is defined, multiple Coding
Schemes can be implemented through the transmitted data
coming from upper layers. The following table presents the 4

Copyright 2008 by ASME

possible coding schemes, which always result on a 456 bit


PDU Size
184 bit
271 bit
315 bit
431 bit

RLC/MAC data rate

9.05 kbps
13.4 kbps
15.6 kbps
21.4 kbps

LLC data rate

8 kbps
12 kbps
14.4 kbps
20 kbps

Table 1: PDU Size vs. Coding Scheme

GPRS supports a bundling of all 8 time slots of one traffic
channel which leads, depending on the coding scheme, to a
maximum transfer rate of 171,2 kbps. Thus, multiple slot
assignments can be done, allowing an almost more flexible
environment for the data transfers, according to the user
particular and time-punctual requirements. According to this
concept, the data transmission, which depends on the number
of data slots used, from 1 data slot and 7 voice slots till 8 data
slots combined with 0 voice slots, is shown in the following









Table 2: GPRS Data Rates

A lot of papers are available [5], which demonstrate the
increase of efficiency by using packet-switched concepts for
wireless transmission of bursty traffic. Nevertheless all these
papers are limited qualified to analyze the applicability of
packet-switched GPRS within ERTMS/ETCS, because the
requirements regarding a signalling-secure transmission of
ETCS entirely differ from public GPRS-based applications like
web-browsing or file transfer for example. To support an
integrated and, for this reason, a realistic analysis of a packetswitched GPRS infrastructure, a modular simulation
environment has to support the aspects which are presented as
follows. Currently each module is analyzed by the workgroup.
GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module The first
module of this work analyzes the applicability of the packetswitched technology GPRS to transmit the management
specific information, the so-called ETCS telegrams, between
the train and the RBC. Initially an ETCS enhancement of an
existing GPRS infrastructure model [6] was implemented by
using the network simulator OPNET Modeler and its wireless
extension. This enhancement provides all relevant networkand management elements, includes the national regulatory
requirements regarding the GSM-R frequency bands and
provides a variation of the length of an ETCS telegram, a
variation of the transmission period, a variation of the different
coding schemes of GPRS, a variation of the number of mobile

stations and base transceiver stations and, finally, a variation of

the speed of the mobile stations. The GPRS-R Packet
Transmission Module provides the basic structure and basic
capabilities regarding the other modules listed below.
GPRS-R MAC/RLC Module The main aspect to
analyze the efficiency of a packet-switched network
infrastructure compared to a connection-oriented network
infrastructure is the operational availability of traffic channels
and signalling channels. The actual GPRS-R MAC/RLC
Module provides all useful aspects of medium access and radio
control, including the requirements which result in the parallel
use of one air interface for data- and voice transmission.
Furthermore a performance analysis of the system in case of a
temporary increase of mobile users will be supported.
GPRS-R Handover Module The implementation of
handover functionality is essential within an ERTMS/ETCS
environment regarding the fact that a train, which moves with a
speed of more than 200 km/h, crosses the border of a radio cell
every 72 seconds. The GPRS-R Handover Module analyzes all
aspects which influence on the transmission of ETCS telegrams
in case of different speeds.
ETCS-QoS Evaluation Module The European Train
Control System (ETCS) provides a secure railroad control and
operation. Taking this into account the demanding requirements
regarding the transmission quality ensure a so-called
signalling secure transmission. The ETCS-QoS Evaluation
Module transfers the classical QoS-parameters into an
ERTMS/ETCS compliant basis of evaluation.
GPRS-R Air Interface Module The GPRS re-uses the
same air interface like the connection-oriented GSM does.
Taking this into account no special impacts regarding the use of
GPRS are expected. Nevertheless the channel characteristics
within a railroad environment are often worse and always
ambitious. The GPRS-R Air Interface Module defines a
wireless channel with especially these worse characteristics to
support a realistic simulation environment.
Rail Mobility Module The Rail Mobility Module
provides the speed-depending movement behavior of various
types of trains and, additionally, the resulting density of mobile
users in one mobile cell.
ETCS Communication Module The ETCS
Communication Module provides a traffic model which
describes the communication between the train(s) and RBC. In
addition to a direct periodic communication between one
specific train and the RBC, a broadcast model for the downlink
transmission will be integrated, too. These traffic models
provide an optimization regarding the up- and downlink
transmission of the ETCS telegrams and, finally, an increase of

Copyright 2008 by ASME

efficiency regarding the availability of traffic- and signalling

channels and the requirements depending of the track.
Subsequently the infrastructure model which represents the
basis of all further works is represented. At the beginning of the
works different simulation tools were examined with regard to
their suitability for the evaluation of GPRS-based
communication infrastructures. The classical tools as Omnet++,
the network simulator NS-2, as well as the OPNET Modeler in
connection with a so-called Wireless extension were selectable.
Ultimately decisive for the choice of the OPNET Modeler as
the selected simulation environment was an easy to use
graphical user interface (GUI) and the fact that already
previously comprehensive works were carried out in the area
GPRS with this simulator so that already a first fundamental
basis of the infrastructure model existed. These models are
online free available as so-called Contributed Paper" [6, 7].
The further analysis showed that the two other candidates do
not support any fast integration of GPRS-based models and
therefore on the workgroup would have had to begin at zero.
Subsequently the simulation environment of the GPRS-R
Packet Transmission Module, which forms the basis of the
other modules, is introduced more precisely. In this case at first
the initial GPRS model is presented shortly [6] and then the
enhancement of this infrastructure, with regard to the
requirements that ETCS makes on a future packet-oriented
infrastructure, will be in presented more detailed.
As already mentioned at the beginning a cellular mobile
radio system is any complex. This results in the consequence
that, according to setting of a task, other aspects of this
infrastructure must be modeled. The final objective of the
focused work is the proof that a packet-switched infrastructure
has comparable transmission properties as a connectionoriented infrastructure, regarding small and bursty amount of
data (e.g. ETCS telegrams), furthermore that it fulfills
sufficiently the quality of service parameters which are required
by ERTMS [8] and, finally, that a clearly more efficient use of
the available communication channels can be realized.
Regarding these aims the simulation environment must
consider in principle the already formulated system attributes.
Each of these system aspects must be implemented first of all
as an independent module and verified with analytical
comparative values. Finally, the fusion of all modules occurs in
a comprehensive infrastructure model which integrates all
system attributes mentioned before and approves such a
realistic statement with regard to the main objective of this
The first module of this project, the GPRS-R Packet
Transmission Module, is focused on the packet-switched
transmission of ETCS telegrams and a periodic communication
concept regarding the transmission between the trains and the
related RBC. The subsequently presented module comes down

on already finished works from the year 2004. A detailed

presentation of these first basic simulation environment as well
as corresponding results were published within the framework
of the conference and are freely available as Contributed model
via the OPNET website [6].
Within this work this basic simulation model was extended
with regard to its fundamental suitability for the use in the area
of ERTMS/ETCS. Furthermore the possibility was created to
adapt important system parameters. Of course, the frequency
band was adapted in accordance to the national regulation
requirements, too. The functional extensions of the enhanced
simulation environment cover the following aspects:

Variation of the train speed between 0 km/h and 500

Variation of the transmission period between 5
seconds and 60 seconds.
Variation of the ETCS telegram length between 10
bytes and 1000 bytes
Variation of the different coding schemes between CS1 to CS-4

The coding scheme CS-1 is the most robust and is the standard
coding scheme within the following simulation scenarios
because the transmission channel within a railroad environment
is really worse.
The following Fig. 3 shows, finally, the enhanced
simulation environment regarding the focused GPRS-R Packet
Transmission Module.







Figure 3: GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module

As seen in Fig. 3 a fixed delay block of 250 milliseconds
was integrated which represents a corporate packet-switched
transport network between the PLMN of the GPRS backbone
network and the related RBC [3].

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As already described in the beginning in ETCS Level 2
nearly all management- and control information is transmitted
via GSM-R between the trains and the RBC. Additionally there
is also the possibility to provide management specific
information from train to track, especially during a downtime
of the train anywhere on the track. Currently the connectionoriented approach of the transmission of ETCS information
(e.g. train position, train speed, movement authority) consists
of the connection establishment, the connection maintenance
and, finally, the connection release. Regarding the long
connection establishment time in connection-oriented GSM-R
systems and also caused by very restrictive quality of service
parameters within ETCS, the connection between the train and
the RBC will be, once established, maintained during the whole
trip and will occupy one traffic channel in each cell.
Concerning a more dynamic and more efficient utilization of
tracks considerably more information will be exchanged
between the trains and the RBC in the future. Regarding this
intention the number of single communications sessions will
also increase, but the number of logical and physical channels
will be constant. To assure that these near future evolution of
train control systems will be supported by the actual GSM-R
infrastructure, this workgroup not only analyzes a packetoriented approach. It also develops new communications
concepts between the RBC and the trains. For example an
innovative broadcast approach for the transmission of ETCS
relevant information from the RBC to all trains in its authority
area should be noted. This concept provides the transmission of
the movement authorities for all trains in a certain area via one
dedicated and synchronized GSM-broadcast-channel. The
optimized update period and still must be analyzed. The
number of communications session between the trains and the
related RBC within a certain area depends mainly on the train
speed, the train density and the number of signalling points
(e.g. stops, turnouts, level crossings, etc). The length of one
ETCS telegram itself may vary. EIRENE [9] regulates the
maximum length of one ETCS telegram to 500 bytes.
EURORADIO is specified for the maximum length of one
information block to 1024 bytes [2]. Additionally the EIRENE
sets forth that specific reference measurements must be carried
out with standardized ETCS telegram with a fix length of 30
bytes [2]. Within the first module of the simulation
environment, based on the enhanced GPRS model, the system
behaviour in case of different transmission periods and, also,
ETCS telegrams with different length were analyzed. The least
transmission period limits to 5 seconds as specified by EIRENE
[9]. An all-out presentation of the simulation scenarios, the
related results and their discussion based on the first module
will be presented as follows.
According to ERTMS applications, especially those related
to emergencies, require more reliability on its communications
compared to the requirements of classical GSM systems.

Thats why GSM-R must perform some special conditions, e.g.

full-time availability of the network signal, high-speed
allowance for MS-BSC communications, special guided
wave propagation (tunnels), high-speed MSs crossing between
them or passing close to the BTS. In order to guarantee these
services, a list of parameters that is introduced subsequently
shortly was defined on the part of the EIRENE [8]. For the
better understanding a GSM-R transmission link is represented
in Fig. 4.








Figure 4: GSM-R Transmission Link

Connection Establishment Delay Value of elapsed time
between the connection establishment request and the
indication of successful connection establishment on the
requesting side [8].
Connection Establishment Error Ratio Ratio of the
number of unsuccessful connection establishment attempts to
the total number of connection establishment attempts [8].
Transfer Delay Value of elapsed time between the request
for transfer of a bearer-user data block and the indication of
successfully transferred end-to-end user data block [8].
Connection Loss Rate The number of connections released
unintentionally per accumulated connection time [8].
Transmission Interference Number of transmission
interference periods exceeding the specified maximum
acceptable duration of transmission interference period or not
followed by the specified minimum acceptable duration of
recovery period per time unit [8].
Network Registration Delay Value of elapsed time from the
request for registration to indication of successful registration
Transmission Interference Period Period during the data
transmission phase of an existing connection in which caused
by the bearer service, no error-free transmission of user data
units is possible [8].
Recovery Period Period of error-free transmission after a
transmission interference, which is required to re-transmit user
data units in error [8].
Normal Transfer Period Period of error-free transmission
after recovery, which is required to transmit user data units
waiting to be served [8].

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Service Availability The number of hours, for which the

service is available to the bearer service user at all places inside
of a defined area, divided by the total number of hours the
service is agreed to be provided [8].
The network shall support transparent train-to-track and
track-to-train data communications at speeds up to 500 km/h
e.g. in tunnels, cuttings, on elevated structures, at gradients, on
bridges and stations. The network shall provide a quality of
service for ETCS data transfer that is at least as good as listed
in table below. The parameters are valid for one end-to-end
connection for one train. The required QoS parameters shall not
depend on network load. This performance reflects railway
operational requirements.
QoS Parameter
Connection Establishment Delay
Connection Establishment Error Ratio
Maximum end-to-end transfer delay
Connection loss rate
Transmission interference rate
Network registration delay

<6 s

< 8.5 s
< 10-3
< 500 ms
< 10-4/h
<1 0-3/h
> 40 s

Table 3: Requirements to Network QoS Parameters

It is obvious that these ETCS specific QoS parameters can
mostly not be simulated directly and must be derived from
classical QoS parameters. This exact transfer will realized
within the ETCS-QoS Evaluation Module. To verify the first
GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module the so-called end-toend-delay provided by OPNET was taken into account and
compared with results from measurements of packet-oriented
public GPRS networks [1]. The end-to-end-delay is similar to
so-called transfer delay and will be measured between the
mobile station (IGSM) and the RBC (IFIX). Regarding the
EIRENE the delay performance guideline for the end-to-end
delay in GSM-R networks is presented in Table 4.
GSM-R Data Channel Type

Delay Class
Best Effort

Maximum Delay (seconds)

128 octets data unit
1024 octets data unit
Mean Delay
95 Percentile
Mean Delay
95 Percentile
< 0.5
< 1.5
< 25
< 15
< 75
< 50
< 250
< 75
< 375

Table 5: GPRS Delay Classes

It is important to say that, although those QoS are not
acceptable for the present case, there are recent techniques like
GQ-MAC that allow a more adaptive QoS depending on the
application required. Thus, BERs of 10-5 and delays of less
than 80 ms can be achieved.
To prove the network behaviour regarding the basic
GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module, the considered way is
the implementation of different scenarios, which modify the
parameters of interest along the multiple simulation sets and
compare the results with the documented behaviour of public
GPRS networks. First of all, the effects of a different number of
mobile stations were taken into account. Another parameter of
interest is the packet length of the ETCS telegrams send by the
mobile stations. The third considered parameter of interest is
the time between consecutive ETCS telegrams, which transmit
e.g. the train position and actual train speed periodically to the
RBC. The fourth parameter of interest is the coding scheme
used for the transmission. The measurement points selected for
global statistic recollection are three: the mobile station
(starting point), the beginning of the corporate transport
network and the RBC (ending point). Finally, it is important to
say that some of the parameters are common to all the defined
scenarios. If available, their default values based on the
EIRENE specification were taken into account. If no standard
values are available, the worse case is taken as the default.

Delay Performance Guideline

222 ms
244 ms
179 ms
340 ms
344 ms

Table 4: End-To-End-Delay in GSM-R Networks

Compared to a GSM-R network the maximum values

allowed in the most restrictive delay class of a GPRS network
are much higher. Table 5 presents the maximum delay values
regarding the four GPRS delay classes [1].

One mobile station, as it is the basic scenario, which

allows the collection of statistics in ideal transmission
conditions regarding the GPRS-R Packet Transmission
ETCS telegram length 30 byte, as it is established in
EIRENE as the default value for testing purposes.
Transmission period: 5 seconds. That is the minimum
value for the time between ETCS telegrams defined by
Coding scheme CS-1, in so far as it is the more
restrictive one, since the addition of header bits is the
One data slot per GSM-frame: that is the most
restrictive value in terms of data throughput.

The verification of the system behaviour regarding the

GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module using realistic

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parameters is mainly based on the end-to-end-delay, or transfer

delay. The loss of packets occurs only due to packet collision in
the air interface, which will not be taken into account as long as
no GPRS-R MAC/RLC Module is integrated. The evaluated
simulation environment is presented in Fig. 3. This basic
environment uses ideal transmission channels and infinite
queues. The transfer delay is monitored between the creation
time (in the MS) of an ETCS telegram and the time it arrives to
the corporate transport network. It is calculated in milliseconds.
The delay of the corporate transport network will increase the
total transfer delay in constant 250 ms.
Scenario A The first parameter of interest is the number of
MS, which will be changed in this scenario between 1 MS and
15 MS. The parallel communications of the operational staff
based on professional mobile radio were not taken into account
in this module. The set of parameters in this scenario are
summed up in the following table.
Total Number of MS
ETCS Telegram Length
Transmission Period
Coding Scheme
Data slots/Voice slots
Simulation time
Distance [first MS] [BTS]
Distance between concurrent MS

packets is required. The most suspicious signal is the one that

the BCCH sends every five seconds, in order to allow the MS
to see which BTS has the most powerful signal, and thus see
which one it should attach to. The transmission time of the
ETCS telegram starts on simulation time and repeats every 5
simulated seconds. The BCCH is a logical channel that has
been implemented as a physical one just for simplification
reasons. Once the reason of that extra delay has been
discovered and the growing delay effect has been explained
for its mean values, lets analyze the time evolution of this
delay. The following Fig. 6 shows the behaviour of the two
extreme cases for the current scenario A: 1 and 15 mobile
stations. For the case of 1 MS, the delay achieves its mean
value (approx. 100.3 ms) much faster as the 15 MS case (which
total mean surrounds 111.6 ms). That gives an outline about its
stable behaviour, and therefore about the concordance with the
expected values.
Time-averaged transfer delay (ms)

1 to 15
30 Bytes
5 Seconds
1 hour
20 Meters
5 Meters

1 MS


15 MS


















Table 5: Input Parameters Scenario A

Simulation time (seconds)

The following Fig. 5 presents the mean transfer delay on GPRS

uplink vs. the total number of MS. The transfer delay variation
is not significant between simulations, but anyway it is not
constant: the more MS used, the more transfer delay found. It
can be easily explained considering the arrival of concurrent
packets to the wired modules, which causes packet queuing and
its associated extra delay.
Mean delay (ms)

Figure 6: Time-Averaged Transfer Delay

With 15 mobile stations, the number of signalling messages
rises up, and thus the number of packets queued along the
network. The delay is affected by that queuing time and its
stabilization is therefore prolonged. Anyway, the delay
increment for the multiple MS case is not relevant, so the
system can be considered stable.


Scenario B In this scenario the length of the ETCS telegram

information packets is modified on each simulation set. The set
of parameters in this scenario are summed up in the following








Number of MS

Figure 5: Transfer Delay vs. Number of MS

Total Number of MS
ETCS Telegram
Transmission Period
Coding Scheme
Data slots/Voice slots
Simulation time









5 Seconds
1 Hour

Table 6: Input Parameters Scenario B

To explain the higher delay between the case of 1 and 2

MS, an analysis of the sending times of all the signalling

Copyright 2008 by ASME

Figure 7 presents the results for changing the length of ETCS


Mean Delay (ms)


Mean Delay (ms)



























Sending Period (seconds)

Figure 8: Transfer Delay vs. Transmission Period

ETCS Telegram size (Bytes)

Figure 7: Transfer Delay vs. ETCS Telegram Length

Regarding the EIRENE specification the following table
presents same essential values.
ETCS Telegram Length
30 Byte
128 Byte
500 Byte
1000 Byte

Scenario D - The objective of this scenario is to analyze the

impact of a different coding scheme regarding the transfer
delay. The set of parameters in this scenario are summed up in
the following Table 9.
Total Number of MS
ETCS Telegram Length
Transmission Period
Coding Scheme
Data slots vs. Voice slots
Simulation time
Distance MSBTS

Mean delay
100.31 ms
270.25 ms
929.12 ms
1851.11 ms

Table 7: ETCS Telegram Length vs. EIRENE

Scenario C The minimum value of 5 seconds for the
transmission period has been taken according to the EIRENE
specifications. Its maximum is set just as a reasonably limit
time between ETCS telegrams, although it would be too high
considering an on-the-way scenario, which must be verified
later within the Rail Mobility Module. The set of parameters in
this scenario are summed up in the following table.
Total Number of MS
ETCS Telegram Length
Transmission Period
Coding Scheme
Data slots/Voice slots
Simulation time
Distance MSBTS

30 Bytes
5 Seconds
1 Hour
55 Meters

30 Byte
CS-1, CS-2, CS-3, CS-4
1 Hour
55 Meters

Table 9: Input Parameters Scenario D

Figure 9 presents the more header length on each low-layer
packet; the more time is needed to transfer an ETCS telegram.
That is the expected behaviour. As seen, the CS-1 ETCS
telegram takes more time to be transmitted compared to CS-4.
That is useful to analyze the compromise between the
reliability that the lower coding schemes can offer and the
delay increment, which in the worst case is not much more than
Mean Delay (ms)

Table 8: Input Parameters Scenario C





As shown in Fig. 8 the behaviour of the delay does not depend

on the sending period within this module. Moreover, its value
is very similar in all the simulation sets, that is, always around
98ms. This value will increase if more than one mobile station
will occur.


Number of GSM data slots used

Figure 9: Transfer Delay vs. Coding Scheme

Copyright 2008 by ASME


After a comprehensive introduction to the ERTMS, its
components' ETCS and GSM-R and a principle representation
of GPRS and, finally, the modules of the GPRS-R simulation
environment were briefly introduced. On the one hand the
functionality of every single simulation module was presented,
on the other hand the challenges to achieve the QoS
requirements of ERTMS regarding a wireless transmission of
ETCS telegrams were shown.
The first GPRS-R Packet Transmission Module was
verified and the fundamental suitability of GPRS for the
transfer of ETCS telegrams was checked by using different
scenarios. The following parameters were varied: The number
of mobile stations, the length of an ETCS telegram, the
transmission period and, finally, the coding scheme. The
evaluation occurred by means of the transfer delay. In
conclusion it was observed that the simulated values of the
transfer delay fulfill the requirements of ERTMS. In this case it
must be pointed out that maximum the length of an ETCStelegram not should cross a value of 128 bytes for a practical
use. Furthermore is to be found, that the differences with regard
to the transfer delay by the use of different coding schemes are
minimal. So, it is recommended to use the most redundant and
robust coding scheme CS-1.
Finally, there are still a lot of open questions to be
answered. The next main important steps to establish the whole
GPRS-R simulation environment will be the integration and
validation of the wireless medium access via the GPRS-R
MAC/RLC Module as well as the integration and validation of
the GPRS-R Air Interface Module. These two modules will
provide on the one hand a detailed analysis of the possibilities
of packet-switched GPRS regarding an efficient use of wireless
communications channels, on the other hand significant values
regarding the BER are expected because collisions and the
characteristics of the air interface occur the highest impact on
the BER.
Authentication Center
Broadcast Control Channel
Base Station Controller
Base Station Subsystem
Base Transceiver Station
Coding Scheme
Equipment Identity Register
European Railway Agency

European Rail Traffic Management System

European Train Control System
European Union


Gateway GPRS Support Node

General Packet Radio Service
General Packet Radio Service-Railway


Global System for Mobile Communications

Graphical User Interface
Home Location Register
Internet Protocol
Integrated Services Digital Network
Logical Link Control
Line of Sight


Medium Access Control

Mobil Station
Mobile Switching Center
Mobile Termination
Network Termination
Onboard Unit
Packet Control Unit
Packet Data Protocol


Packet Data Unit

Quality of Service
Radio Block Center
Radio Link Control
Serving GPRS Support Node
Visitor Location Register

[1] Schwartz, M., 2005, Mobile Wireless Communications,
Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge
[2] EuroRadio Interface Group, 2003, Radio Transmission
[3] EIRENE, 2006, EIRENE System Requirements
Specification, UIC, Paris
[4] Kalden, R. A., 2004, Mobile Internet Traffic Measurement
and Modeling Based on Data from Commercial GPRS
Networks, Wissenschaftsverlag Mainz, Aachen
[5] Scheibenbogen, M., 2001, Dynamische Kanalvergabe in
zellularen Funknetzen, Wissenschaftsverlag Mainz, Aachen
[6] Ng, R. and Trajkovic, L., 2004, Simulation of General
Packet Radio Service Network, OPNET Technology Inc.,
Washington DC
[7] Christiansen H., 2004, A tool for GPRS end-to-end
performance modeling, OPNETWork 2004, Washington DC
[8] EIRENE, 2003, Subset-093 GSM-R Interfaces Class 1
Requirements, UIC, Paris
[9] EIRENE, 2006, EIRENE Functional Requirements
Specification, UIC, Paris


Copyright 2008 by ASME