Andrew, the CommScope Inc. division that is a global leader in wireless communication systems and products, has signed a contract with Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland for providing radio frequency (RF) coverage solutions in the world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

Andrew will provision its ION™-M multi-band, multi-operator fiber distributed antenna system and RADIAX® radiating cables to spread reliable, high performance wireless coverage throughout the tunnel. Railway operators and emergency personnel will be primary users of the system with GSM-R and PMR communications standards supported, while public 2G and 3G mobile network customers will also benefit with improved coverage.

“Railway systems rely on clear and constant communication among train engineers and control centers for smooth and safe operation,” said Markus Kalt, vice president of business operations, EMEA, Wireless Innovations, Andrew. “Andrew is honored to be chosen by Alcatel-Lucent for supplying the coverage solutions that help ensure such important exchanges.”

Unique challenges in supporting railway communications in tunnels include the high-speed handoffs that are required as passengers zip through the tunnel. Gotthard Base Tunnel commuters will travel at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Andrew’s ION-M solution, which includes over 600 remote units for this project, is tuned to handle such quick hand-offs. In addition to the Gotthard Base Tunnel’s main carriageway tunnel tubes, the railway system consists of numerous access and service tunnels totaling 153 kilometers in length. Andrew’s RADIAX radiating cables will support the entire tunnel system.

AlpTransit Gotthard, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways, is constructing the Gotthard Base Tunnel as part of a new flat rail link through the Swiss Alps. With a length of 57 kilometers, the world's longest tunnel should become operational at the end of 2017. Transtec Gotthard, a consortium of four industry leaders, has been contracted for the provisioning of the complete railway technology. Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland is the partner responsible for furnishing telecommunications and tunnel control technology.

“Being responsible for communications in the Gotthard Tunnel, we needed a versatile, multi-functional system that could handle essential, emergency, and commercial communications,” said Marco Brugnoni, program manager, Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland. “Andrew has the proven experience in delivering reliable, quality equipment in such scenarios.”