A bullet train cruising on the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway. Photo: Xinhua

A large-capacity data transmission and storage system leveraging 5G technology has started recording and analyzing data aboard some locomotives operated by China Railway Corp, in a trial project spearheaded by the Chinese railway operator, state-owned rolling stock manufacturer CRRC Corp and China Mobile.

Up to six million people travel on China’s expanding high-speed rail network on any given day, creating an astronomical amount of data about train scheduling, marshaling and the condition of locomotives and passenger compartments that need to be synced in real-time to operation control centers and maintenance depots.

Delving into the details, the sprawling legions of 5G cellular base stations and towers that China Mobile spent years constructing along trunk rail routes can now be readily tapped to transmit huge chunks of data.

This will enable for the first time simultaneous ultra-high definition video streaming and conferencing between a driving cab and a control center for better monitoring and trouble-shooting, even when a bullet train is galloping along at 350 kilometers per hour.

That is on the strength of the proof-of-concept beam-forming technology as well as millimeter wave spectrum as key enablers to offer reliable service to drivers and passengers alike, including as the backhaul for train marshaling and on-board Wi-Fi.

Previous tests included 8K video being downloaded by a 5G router aboard a train, and 4K video filmed from a camera atop the train being uploaded.

Xinhua noted that five gigabytes of data can be transferred in the blink of an eye over China Mobile’s subsystem tailor-made for China Railway Corp that has been trial run on the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway, and the speed will bump up further with the wider roll-out of the 5G network across the nation starting from the second half of the year.

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