The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has confirmed it will upgrade technology on its National Train Communications System (NTCS) with the rollout of 4G capability for all services by June 2024.

Australian mobile network operator Telstra will provide the 4G boost, as more than 3,000 communications units across the network will be upgraded to 4G.

Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the Prague metro network is getting 4G/5G connectivity.

Australia national rail
– Getty Images

Connectivity will be provided through Telstra's mobile network and In Cab Equipment (ICE) units, which will provide train-to-network control communications on the ARTC network nationally.

According to ARTC, the upgrades will ensure that network equipment is prepared for a 5G upgrade in the future.

ARTC noted that Telstra-managed NTCS upgrade works are being carried out at 81 locations across the country. This includes nine additional mobile tower sites and 13 tunnel upgrades.

The upgrades will support some remote parts of the country, added the ARTC.

A firm called Base2 is working with ARTC to upgrade 1,600 locomotives to ICE units.

“The Telstra 4G coverage update will primarily support train to train control communications, network maintenance staff, and network control on both freight and passenger services across the ARTC network," said Brad Moorhouse, ARTC Group executive engineering and systems.

“It is imperative that we keep up with technology changes to improve resilience and services for our rail systems, as we look ahead to the next stage of 5G. The upgrade ensures the continued provision of the interoperable communications system to provide a single, interoperable, and reliable method of operational voice communications between train crew and Network Controllers across large parts of Australia.”

Prague metro network completes 4G and 5G deployment

In the Czech capital, Prague, an eight-year project to boost mobile connectivity on the city's metro train network has been completed.

The project has seen Czech mobile operators T-Mobile, O2, and Vodafone, plus infrastructure operator CETIN work together.

The project was completed with the reopening of the Jiriho z Podebrad station, meaning that the entire 61-station network, has either 4G LTE or 5G connectivity.

It's estimated that the project has cost $22 million, according to the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP).