For thousands of years now, Olten has been an important intersection when it comes to transport over the Alps and traffic along the northern side of the Swiss mountains. It became even more significant with the advent of the railway. Olten has a pivotal role for SBB as the railway hub between Basel, Bern, Zurich and the major alpine tunnels.

From left to right: Peter Meier, R&M Switzerland; Jürg Lauber, project lead at the SBB infrastructure telecom division; Hanspeter Digel, project lead at the SBB infrastructure telecom division; Franco Suppa, divisional manager for installations at swisspro AG; Beat Stucki, R&M Switzerland.

This is why Olten was an obvious choice for one of the four new operations control centers that are due to make Swiss rail traffic even more efficient over the next 100 years. SBB will be centering all tasks of daily rail operation in the four new operations control centers by 2016: scheduling, operation, control, monitoring and customer information. They will take the place of more than 100 remote control centers and stations.

Sustainability thanks to the 25-year system warranty

Building a new operations control center, which is to play such a significant role in railroad traffic, requires farsighted planning and specific system solutions. “The operations control center in Olten is designed for a useful life of 80 years,” explains project manager Jürg Lauber. Some of the technology inside the building will be replaced after five years, but most of it will last for a period of 20 years. “For cabling, we assume a half life of 20 years,” says Hanspeter Digel, project manager for information and communication technology.

The 25-year system warranty from R&M exceeds these specifications. The supplier of copper and FO infrastructure was chosen on the basis of compatibility to installations at other sites. Hanspeter Digel: “This guarantees lasting and economic availability of all cabling components.” The R&M solution also simplified the storage of spare parts.


A further criterion in the evaluation was that the network should be maintenance-friendly. As the railway system has to work around the clock without interruption, all sources of error have to be excluded when the cables are being serviced or changed. All elements should be able to be handled intuitively, transparently and without any great need for tools.

“In the future, we are going to have to carry out more maintenance work during the day and during the week – in other words when everything is in full swing,” says Jürg Lauber. In that sense, the quality, quick mounting technology and modularity of the R&M systems are of particular help. This is something that is also confirmed by Franco Suppa from swisspro AG, the company responsible for the installation.

Customized design

Custom-made devices for the control room on the top floor of the operations control center were also on SBB’s wish list. As many as 100 employees regulate rail traffic through central Switzerland. On their desks, all you will see are input devices and monitors. The systems – just like the servers, switches and other active devices – are on separate floors to avoid noise and waste heat at people’s desks.

To make this possible, the tables had to be equipped with compact boxes that unite several connections. Within an extremely short time, R&M developed a suitable unit using the Cat. 6A module. “Working out this specific solution together was of immense benefit to us,” underlines Hanspeter Digel. He describes collaboration with R&M as being both exemplary and innovative.