Network Rail to use F1 connectivity technology for infrastructure monitoring

Posted: 16 November 2022 | | No comments yet

McLaren Applied will provide F1-derived technology to Network Rail that will help them to make informed engineering and maintenance decisions quicker.


McLaren Applied has announced the success of its bid to provide the 5G onboard connectivity solution for Network Rail infrastructure monitoring trains. The contract will see the company’s patented F1-derived Fleet Connect software installed on its first-of-its-kind Active Antenna hardware, supported by a five-year service contract.

Originally developed for Formula 1, McLaren Applied’s Fleet Connect software has already been deployed on transport fleets around the world to facilitate seamless high-speed passenger Wi-Fi connections and operator uplinks. Fleet Connect splits data across networks in real time and reassembles it in the cloud enroute to its destination, reducing blackspots and providing a consistent connectivity stream for any moving vehicle in any environment.

The first implementation of Active Antenna technology in the UK will bring a new, simplified approach to on-train connectivity infrastructure. Utilising Huber+Suhner componentry with an edge compute module, modem and eSIM capability embedded within the antenna, all RF cables and routers are replaced with a single ethernet connection. 

The combination of Fleet Connect software and Active Antenna hardware means trains will remain continuously connected as they travel the length and breadth of the country through various network providers, formats, and strengths. It also allows McLaren Applied’s industry-leading solution to be lighter, faster, and more economical than any alternative on the market. Saving space and weight means that McLaren Applied can simultaneously improve railway connectivity and environmental performance, while easing the transition to 5G connectivity.  


The McLaren Applied Antenna

“The innovative solution proposed by McLaren Applied to secure this contract is the perfect illustration of how our work at the cutting-edge of motorsport can directly translate into game-changing solutions for transport,” Samir Maha, Chief Operating Officer at McLaren Applied, said. “By uniting our Formula 1-derived Fleet Connect software and Active Antenna hardware, we have created a turn-key product that is much greater than the sum of its parts. We look forward to working with Network Rail to deliver fast, reliable connectivity for its hard-working fleet across Great Britain.”

“Gathering accurate data in a timely manner across the whole network is extremely important for the safe and smooth operation of the railway,” Jason Saxon, Director of Asset Information at Network Rail, said. “Having a system that enables us to transmit critical asset condition data from our infrastructure monitoring fleet will enable us to continue to put passengers and freight first with a safe and reliable railway that they can rely on.”

With 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts as well as numerous signals, level crossings and stations across 20,000 miles of track, the ability to quickly and reliably transmit live data streams, including camera feeds and sensor readings for track, foliage and network monitoring, will enable Network Rail to make informed engineering and maintenance decisions confidently and quickly.

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