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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Intelligent Rail Transport System to Enhance GCC's Rail Projects

As reported by ZawyaWith approximately $250 billion worth of rail projects planned or under way in the GCC [Gulf Coast] countries - and with plans to build more than 33,712 km of mainline routes and 3,004 km of metro, monorail and tramlines across the Middle East and North Africa - an "intelligent rail transport system" is vital to ensure an efficient, clean rail transport.

Intelligent rail system can help rail operators to reduce manpower requirements, meanwhile improving operational efficiency and passenger care capacity and to reduce operational expenses.

Ahead of the upcoming "MENA Rail and Metro Summit 2013" to be held on Oct. 28-30, 2013 at the Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi, Yiwen Wang Chief Technology Officer, MEA Government and Enterprise Business, ZTE, said intelligent as applied in rail transport has two aspects, "one is to introduce the mature next generation communication technology into rail transit system, (and) other is to integrate the IT innovations and ideas with rail transport system." 

In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, Wang noted that that GCC countries have started great rail transportation construction plans, such as the Gulf railway plan jointly participated by all GCC countries, with Saudi Arabia's 9000 km railway and high-speed development blueprint, Qatar and Kuwait's grandiose plans for the subway and national railway, among others.

ZTE iRail includes a family of innovative solutions, such as GSM-R system which realize train-grand real-time communications, CCTV system with the ability of intelligent identifying, ZIFI systems which allows visitors to enjoy high speed Internet access while traveling at the speed of more than 300 mph [483 kmh].
In conventional rail system construction, communication and signaling system take only less than 5 percent of the total investment. When use of the new generation of iRail system, the initial capital expenditure will be improved slightly, but the proportion of the total investment is minimal and negligible. However, there is a significant contribution to improve transport efficiency and reduce operational expenditure, Wang pointed out.

Intelligent transport system provides innovative services relating to different modes of transport and traffic management and enables various users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and "smarter" use of transport networks. And ZTE capitalizes on its having over 15 years industry experience in both rail/metro communication and signaling system, he added.

Moreover, he emphasized that whether it is "modern or future, high-speed, high efficiency, safety, comfort, energy saving, will be the key to intelligent rail transport system needs." 

Asked about the suitability of its solutions in the terrain and temperature of the GCC countries, Wang said "ZTE iRail solutions share a large number of mature technologies and design concepts that ZTE had accumulated in the field of communication and information technology. So far, ZTE's equipment have been widely deployed and verified in the climate of MENA region. We also provide flexible customization capabilities, so as to adapt to the culture of the Middle East."

He added that ZTE has nearly 30 years of experience in the communications industry, also has over 15 years experience in railway industry, saying that it has participated and witnessed the China railway, especially the high-speed railway, in recent 10 years of its rapid development. 

"At present, our solution has been widely used in railway projects in many Asian and European countries. Recently, we also noticed the MEA region, especially GCC countries, has become the world's hot spots of railway infrastructure investment, greatly leading the global growth rate of 8.1 percent. After careful thinking, ZTE wants to enter MEA's rail transport market and become an active partner in MEA's great railway development plan."

On whether the ZTE iRail solutions are economical, Wang explained that there are several aspects that iRail solutions have taken in consideration for saving investment. First, ZTE can provide end-to-end integration solution, greatly reduced the difficulty and manpower usage by the owner and the general contractor. 

"Evidenced by more than 50 subway lines' construction in China, the owner was inclined to cooperate with manufacturers with comprehensive integration abilities, like ZTE."

When operational expenses are taken into consideration, on the other hand, iRail solutions adopt various types of network-based new front-end sensors and back-end software and data platform, allowing rail transit system to have the self-perception ability on the change of environment conditions and business volume, he noted.