The WA PTA's digital rail communications network project has resumed.

Kutl Ahmedia

Nokia will construct an IP/MPLS-based "4.9G" LTE network.
With Nokia unveiling the technologies that would offer high-speed digital radio transmission to serve 250km of railway track and tunnels, the Western Australia Public Transport Authority (PTA) has restarted its protracted network replacement project.

Due to US trade restrictions placed on the Chinese vendor in 2019, the PTA contracted Huawei to develop the $136 million network; however, it abandoned it in 2020.

At the time, the PTA and Huawei jointly explained that the project had to be abandoned due to a "force majeure occurrence" caused by American national security considerations.

The PTA, Huawei, and the building contractor UGL all stated that they would try to complete the project without going against US rules, but that proved to be impossible.

Rita Saffioti, the minister of transportation, reported to the WA Legislative Assembly in June that the contract had been cancelled with the government paying the Huawei/UGL partnership $6.6 million.

She previously informed the legislature that Nokia will receive $327 million to create the network, which was $121 million more than the initial Huawei contract. Nokia revealed the specifics of this agreement Wednesday.

The project covers planning and constructing the network as well as providing maintenance for five years with the potential for two further five-year terms.

For the METRONET infrastructure and the public transportation program, the network covers more than 160 LTE/4.9G radio stations.

Additionally, it will accommodate a high capacity signaling system known as Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), according to the PTA.

Rob McCabe, head of enterprise for Oceania at Nokia, referred to the initiative as "prestigious" and emphasized the PTA's need for more precise signaling, which "leads to greater experience and safety."

The PTA currently uses a narrowband analogue system that is unable to support mission-critical voice, high-speed data, and video services, and the new network must also comply with the federal Critical Infrastructure Act's requirements. As a result, the PTA's requirements also have room for a cyber security fabric across all solution components.

In 2025, the network is scheduled to go live.

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