A Thales/Huawei/Imet consortium has been awarded a €30 million contract for a global system for mobile communications (GSM-R) by Morocco’s national railway operator, Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF).

GSM-R ensures communications between trains, ground and train control centres with a high-level of reliability. Thales and Huawei will cooperate on the implementation of the GSM-R Radio Communication system, while Imet will be responsible for all the civil works of this project.

The solution will be provided to five lines of Morocco’s railway network, totalling 712 kilometres, and is the first time a GSM-R system will be installed in the country. These five lines represent the first phase of a comprehensive project, to be completed over the next nine years, that aims to install GSM-R on the whole of Morocco’s rail network - totalling 14 lines and 1,923 kilometres.

The solution will serve Africa’s first high-speed line, which will cover a distance of 185 kilometres between Tangiers and Kenitra. The four other, conventional railway lines will see their existing track-to-train radio system replaced by the GSM-R solution.

As consortium leader, Thales will oversee the global management of the project. Thales, a GSM-R integrator with strong technical and business foundations, will also be responsible for the overall system design and system integration. Furthermore, the Group will carry out maintenance activities.

Huawei will provide its GSM-R digital radio system, for operational train-to-ground communication. To ensure voice dispatching and mission-critical services at the highest level of reliability, the GSM-R network will be equipped with Huawei’s IP based ATCAcore network and Distributed Base Stations to cover tunnels. A double coverage radio access network will be deployed along the high speed Tangiers-Kenitra leg.

Imet, Italy’s leading company in the field of railway technological and civil works, will provide its expertise in site design and construction, shelters supply, installation and splicing fibre optic cable.