Prague will use Galileo satellites to track all trams, provide more accurate data

The new system will be more accurate than the 20-year-old GPS tracking and allow for better predictions of arrivals

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 09.06.2020 12:36:10 (updated on 09.06.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) plans to purchase multi-frequency receivers with an antennae for all its trams. This will enable them to receive signals from the European navigation system Galileo, as well as GPS, Glonass and BeiDou.

DPP’s goal is to replace the previous 20-year-old system based on GPS to specify the location of trams so it can provide more accurate data on the position of vehicles to passengers.

The transit company is cooperating on the project with the Czech Technical University (ČVUT), European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), the Czech Ministry of Transport and Prague City Hall. The estimated value of the public contract for the antennas is 20 million CZK. DPP expects to announce the winner of the tender at the end of this summer vacation.

The receivers for global navigation satellite data and antennae will be installed in the entire fleet of trams, so 838 units are required. The project is unique in Europe, and DPP will be one of the first carriers in Europe to have an entire fleet of trams equipped with Galileo navigation signal receivers.

Tram 15T Alfa / via DPP
Tram 15T Alfa / via DPP

“Public transport must be comfortable and user-friendly not only in traffic environments and at stops. We installed monitors in the metro with the actual arrival of trains in December 2019. At the beginning of this year, we started providing passengers with data on the actual departures of buses from stops and subsequently their online location,” Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě), responsible for transit, said.

“For this year, we have promised that we would like to start providing passengers with the same for trams. The tender we are currently announcing is one of the first steps that will bring us closer to fulfilling this promise,” he added.

The data from Galileo will be more accurate than the previous GPS data. “Thanks to the new receivers and the possibility of using the signal of the European navigation system Galileo, we will not only achieve a more precise location of trams, according to previous tests up to 1.5 meters, but it will help us improve other systems that we use in DPP. This will allow us to automatically control some important functions of the latest 15T trams without driver intervention, such as speed limitation to switches, noise reduction, track announcements or lighting in tunnels,” Petr Witowski, chairman of the board and CEO of DPP, said.

The European Union’s GSA, based in Prague, is responsible for providing services and security for the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Galileo and EGNOS.

“Urban public transport is considered to be a fundamental pillar of transport systems throughout Europe, without which it would not be possible to ensure the efficient functioning of cities or to meet the European Union’s transport and climate protection objectives. In particular, tram transport and its further development is a priority in this respect for ensuring capacity and environmentally neutral transport in cities,” Pascal Claudel, acting executive director of the GSA, said.

“Prague is one of the European leaders in the field of tram transport, not only in scope but also in quality, and it is therefore a great pleasure for us that DPP plans to use the Galileo system for positioning across the entire fleet as one of the first public transport operators in Europe,” he added.

The announced public contract is for equipment with the ability to receive the signal from the Galileo system, which is one of the most accurate. The maximum deviation of the tram location must not exceed 3.5 meters anywhere in the public transport network in Prague.

DPP will evaluate the bids based on the lowest bid price. However, before concluding the contract, the contract will have to carry out a test installation in a 15T tram and pass a functional test of its connection, accuracy of position estimation and other required DPP parameters. The tests will then be evaluated by ČVUT.

DPP expects to announce the contract winner at the end of this summer vacation. The supplier is then obliged to deliver and install the equipment to the entire fleet of DPP trams within 180 days of signing the contract. Thanks to the new receivers and the signal of the Galileo navigation system, the first trams should start providing their current position during the last quarter of this year.

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