Iris4Rail - Iris for Railway Communications

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The Iris for Railway Communications study aims to perform a suitability assessment of the Iris service solution, specifically defined for the aeronautics domain, in the railway operational scenario.The Iris for Railway Communications study aims to perform an assessment of the suitability of the Iris service solution (, specifically defined for the aeronautics domain, in the railway operational scenario.

To this aim, the  following key objectives are identified: 

  1. Identification of the technical requirements and architecture of a satcom based solution (space, ground and user segment) to be used in the FRMCS bearer flexible scenario;
  2. Development of a railway traffic dimensioning tool to allow the estimation of communication traffic requirements in input to Iris for rail satellite system;
  3. Suitability assessment of the Iris system for the proposed solution;
  4. Suitability assessment of the Iris service provision concept for the railway environment;
  5. Definition of a roadmap of development and testing in line with ERA program and taking into account the necessary homologation/certification steps;
  6. Target cost estimation of the proposed solution;
  7. Dissemination of the results.


The Study started in April 2018, for a duration of 9 months.

The industrial consortium is composed of Thales Alenia Space in Italy as prime and Indra Sistemas.


The European Commission has highlighted the risk of obsolescence and saturation of the current terrestrial railway communication system (GSM-R) by 2030. The Future Rail Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) and the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) programmes have the objective of identifying solutions for a successor of GSM-R, and ERA “Study on feasibility of SatCom for railway communication” has analysed several SatCom system solutions with the outcome that there is no currently deployed SatCom system meeting all the simultaneous criteria for railway safety applications (i.e. critical).

Among the planned systems, the Iris FOC (Full Operational Capability) is a candidate solution to complement existing and planned terrestrial communication systems for rail, and is the best positioned to meet the criteria for critical applications.

Extending the scope of  Iris service can provide as major benefit an extended set of end-users with the same service infrastructure.


 The satellite communication system is part of a wider railway communication system composed of a terrestrial and a satellite component

Preliminary Example of Iris4Railway Communication complete railway communications system (terrestrial + satellite) 

The main functionalities are distributed among the different domains of the Iris for Railway communication operational scenario.

Preliminary Main Functionalities apportionments to Iris4Railway Communication Domains

The stream of activities foreseen in the Study is:

  • Requirements state of art critical analysis;
  • Technical requirements definition;
  • Reference system architecture definition;
  • Critical communication application definition;
  • Preliminary verification analysis (tool);
  • Preliminary solution assessment (analysis);
  • Preliminary roadmap and viability analysis definition;

Results dissemination and liaison with standardization groups.

Current Status

The Study started in April 2018.

The activities performed so far are relevant to the review and consolidation of system technical requirements, with the identification of the quantitative figures for the selected criteria and preliminary assessment against planned Iris system. The first review (Requirements Review) is planned for end of July 2018.

The team has presented to the ETSI Workshop "Developing the Future Radio for Rail Transport", 4-5 July 2018, ETSI, Sophia Antipolis, France, as a first dissemination step and as a starting point for the liaison with standardization groups, stakeholders and users.

Prime Contractor



Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Alessia Miglietta
Address Via Saccomuro 24, Rome Italy
00100 Rome RM

ESA Project Manager

Michele Castorina

Status Date

11 October 2018 - Created: 11 October 2018