Ciena upgrading Sydney Trains optical network

Ciena will use its 6500 Packet-Optical Platform to upgrade Sydney Trains' SDH network with an optical transport network switching solution.

Telecommunications equipment and software provider Ciena has announced that it has been chosen by Sydney Trains to upgrade its underlying telecommunications network in an effort to improve speeds, latency, and reliability, so as to increase customer safety and experience.

Under the deal, Ciena will transition the transportation provider from its legacy synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) network using its 6500 Packet-Optical Platform with an optical transport network (OTN) switching solution.

"For transportation providers, migrating their communication networks by deploying packet-optical technologies is key to continually improving safety measures and optimising passenger services," Ciena VP and GM for Asia Pacific Anthony McLachlan said.

"Ciena offers converged packet optical solutions that serve as the foundation for public transport agencies to meet current needs, while enabling them to invest in the infrastructure to deploy future services."

Ciena -- which provides optical transport links, Ethernet transport solutions, and underlying connectivity for telecommunications operators globally via presence across many subsea cables -- said the network is part of Sydney Trains' critical infrastructure, as it is used to keep track of trains and ensure they operate at safe distances.

"Sydney Trains has various sites along its network that have different traffic requirements. The flexibility of Ciena's 6500 Packet Optical Platform supports these end-to-end services and various system configurations, including deployments over long distances and fibre types such as aerial," Ciena explained.

McLachlan told ZDNet in February that its two biggest focuses are resilience and performance via network virtualisation.

"What we're focused on is -- it's the resilience of that network, performance of the network, I would say, and also how you can manipulate that data around to get the best experience for customers," McLachlan explained to ZDNet.

"Time and cost is really what we're taking out, so we're moving away from these monolithic approaches to more of a services architecture.

"For us, our focus is about driving high-capacity, high-performance software-enabled networks ... we think we're bringing the right portfolio set together to give our customers that flexibility and openness."

The announcement of the upgrade to Sydney Trains' network follows a fault in Melbourne's Metro Trains computer control system causing the entire rail network to be shut down during peak hour one afternoon last month.

The failure of Metro Trains' AU$88 million Train Control and Monitoring System (TCMS) -- which was switched on in 2014, 15 years after it was initially proposed to improve the public transport system's efficiency -- meant network controllers could not see where in the rail network the trains were, with operations shut down for safety reasons.

Metro Trains told ZDNet that an investigation was launched on the day, with "engineers working right through the night".

In November last year, Victoria's auditor-general had concluded that there were "significant weaknesses" in Metro Trains' security and control systems, unhelped by "inadequate" governance by Public Transport Victoria (PTV).

While the underlying networks of the metropolitan train systems are becoming outdated, Sydney and Melbourne are also looking towards improving Wi-Fi and mobile coverage on their train lines.

In April, the Victorian government announced its AU$18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project through which it is aiming to improve mobile coverage for railway commuters on the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon, and Seymour lines.

Victoria has partnered with Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Australia to deliver the project, which will see the mobile carriers build out around 35 new mobile towers along the train lines, with completion due in 2018.

The three telcos will also install reception repeaters on trains, enhancing the signal from mobile towers along the train lines.

The federal government's Budget, announced in May, similarly set aside AU$12 million in funding to build Wi-Fi and mobile coverage across trains in New South Wales.

"This program will establish mobile and internet connectivity along the train route between Hornsby and Wyong," the federal government said in its Budget 2017-18.

Under the project, AU$5 million will be given towards the project in 2017-18, AU$5 million in 2018-19, and AU$2 million in 2019-20.

Mobile reception inside the tunnels on Sydney's inner-city trains was provided back in 2012.

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