Canada’s railways depend on advanced wireless communications technologies to help them operate a safe and efficient rail system. These technologies—that make use of part of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the “radio spectrum”—play a key role in enabling the rail industry to deliver safe, dependable, and predictable service to its customers.
Creating a Safer and More Efficient Rail System
In order to use the radio spectrum for wireless telecommunications, it is divided into multiple frequency bands; some bands are best suited for rail communications, while others are used for cellphones, television, and satellite communication.
The railway industry primarily uses the very high frequency (VHF) spectrum—the 1.41 MHz of spectrum between 160.1700 and 161.5800 MHz—for voice communications. But other frequencies on the radio spectrum are used for other essential rail operations: the in-yard remote control of locomotives, the verification of crossings and switches, and the automatic identification of railcars across the North American network, among others.
The Canadian government regulates the use of the railway radio spectrum, while the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) manages its use and its coordination with railways in the United States. In 2000, Industry Canada issued RAC a single spectrum licence for Canada’s freight and passenger railways. This has reduced the administrative burden on both governments and railways. It has also allowed Canada’s rail industry to play a more active role in the expansion and deployment of its radio communications network—a network that is essential for the operation of safe and efficient railways from coast to coast.
Canadian Rail Communication: Beyond 2020
*This White Paper was prepared for RAC by Vinodrai & Associates Inc.
To learn more about RAC’s Radio Spectrum Services, please contact:
Director, Spectrum & Telecommunications