Opened in 1928, the Naples Central Funicular is one of the major funicular railway lines in the world in terms of length, efficiency and capacity. It connects the Vomero district to the historic city centre, two of the most commercially active areas in the city. Of the 4 funicular railway lines in Naples, it is the one with the largest flow of users, averaging about 28,000 people on weekdays and 10,000 on Sundays and public holidays. The funicular railway line totals 1270m in length and covers a change in height of about 170m, with an average gradient of 13%. Its two trains have a capacity of 450 travellers each, which can move at 7m/s and cover the entire route in less than 7 minutes.
Due to its logistical importance, this type of railway line is subject to continuous maintenance and updating. Therefore, for its special twenty-year maintenance operations, ANM (Azienda Napoletana Mobilità) saw it appropriate to renew its stations, trains and safety systems. This involved installing a real-time video surveillance system and a VOIP emergency system on the trains.
LAIS, a system integrator specialised in safety systems and networking, in collaboration with LEITNER, a leading company in the production and maintenance of funicular lines for people transport, was commissioned with finding the best data transmission solution. “In such circumstances, a wired system would not be easy to install and conventional Wi-Fi does not meet requirements. Therefore, we turned to Fluidmesh with its long-standing experience in providing Train-To-Ground communication solutions for trains and underground railways,” commented Engineer Mario Pasquino, LAIS Information Technology Division Director.
The system, based on Fluidmesh’s Fluidity technology, uses FM4200 radios and 2×2 MIMO antennas specifically designed for communication on trains and moving vehicles. The Naples Central Funicular Line solution can transmit, in real time and with low latency, live video streams of 6 Full HD video cameras installed on board the train. The video is then retransmitted via fibre optic backbone to the Control Room, where it is monitored by staff. “We had already considered using a wireless system to solve this kind of requirement in our systems but, unfortunately, existing technologies have never provided positive results with regard to stability, latency and reliability. Fluidmesh Networks has proved capable in meeting all these requirements,” commented Engineer Giuliano Zannotti, Technical Director of LEITNER.
Using Fluidmesh’s unique MPLS-based wireless technology, the data stream is routed and managed extremely efficiently. Moreover, Fluidmesh’s Make-Before-Break approach results in the seamless handover of data when the train travels from one trackside Base Station to the next.
By guaranteeing a specific level of bandwidth performance, the solution also allows for concurrent operation of video surveillance and emergency VOIP services, resulting in significant cost savings for the overall network.
“Fluidmesh devices have been easily and quickly installed and commissioned despite the complexity of the system, which is mainly collocated in tunnels. Fluidmesh provided high-level support and showed outstanding expertise and professionalism during all phases of the project. The end customer is extremely pleased with the result,” concluded Engineer Pasquino.