Pilot project: renewal of railroad track “Wil-Weinfelden”

The railroad in Thurgau has been working since 1911. The regional trains of Thurbo AG, a subsidiary of SBB, transport around 86 500 passengers every day between Lake Constance and Toggenburg. Thurbo AG is one of the most well used railways in Switzerland and is one of the top performers among the regional railways in terms of customer satisfaction.

Large sections of the Wil-Weinfelden rail infrastructure had come to the end of their useful life. Many track sections, signal boxes, barriers (crossings) and systems no longer satisfied today’s technical requirements. As the owner of the Wil-Weinfelden track, Thurbo AG commissioned the SBB infrastructure to thoroughly modernize this section. Almost CHF 50 million were invested between the spring of 2011 and the fall of 2012.

Four electronic signal boxes, new safety equipment and access for the disabled were built during this time. Furthermore, new conduits with copper and FO cable were laid along the embankment. To be able to conclude the project as efficiently as possible, both in terms of time and money, the 22-kilometer stretch with its four stations and four stops were taken out of service for six months.

Railway telecommunication mainly with optical fiber

SBB and its subsidiaries operate one of the best railway systems in the world. But there is much more to it than that: They also maintain one of the largest and most innovative telecommunication networks in Europe, “under their own steam” so to speak. The redundant FO network covering several thousands of kilometers was laid along many towns and villages in Switzerland and is constantly being extended.

FO network integrated in R&Mfoxs distribution frames

In the Wil-Weinfelden project, a new FO network was installed for rail telecommunication to ensure fast connections and redundant networks.

R&M’s state-of-the-art solution was chosen for flexible FO distribution: the R&Mfoxs cabling system with the Optical Distribution Frame (ODF). Both the outdoor cabinets along the track and the distribution frames in the station buildings were easy to install. The modular principle and R&M’s fast assembly technology helped the technicians during assembly. Up to 680 FO connections were plugged. The pre-terminated ODF inserts with the distribution technology were installed in next to no time. The entire FO network went online at the end of August 2012.

What has been learned from the FO project

The rail specialists confirmed that the project was characterized by, “Uncomplicated handling, no superfluous components and cost-conscious planning.” And that was exactly what the SBB infrastructure had intended: Those responsible only wanted to carry out as much reconstruction and invest as much money as absolutely necessary. They wanted the cable infrastructure to have a future-proof design, be standardized and easy to use. Investments in particular should result in as many benefits as possible for the company but also be able to be extended at a later date without having to invest significant sums of money.


R&M aims to recognize customer needs at an early stage and integrate them in the product development process, something which has proved itself over and over again. The R&Mfoxs cabling system was already known to those responsible for infrastructure at SBB after an in-depth visit to the R&M stand at the specialist show in Lucerne in 2010. On this occasion, R&Mfoxs was presented and technical information and opinions exchanged. Due to the company’s expertise, product quality, simple solutions and result-oriented customer service, R&M has been an SBB supplier for many years now. Further criteria that helped swing the decision in favor of R&M were:

  • Modularity
  • Simplicity
  • Fast assembly
  • Pre-termination
  • Compactness