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Aug 28, 2019

Quantum communications could become a breakthrough technology for Russian Railways

Russian Railways intends to achieve leadership in the development of quantum communications on railway transport, said Oleg Belozorov, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways.

Belozorov was speaking at the plenary session of the International Railway Salon of the 1520 Space PRO//Movement. EXPO, which was held under the rubric of Digital Transformation and the Technology of the Future in the Rail Industry.

According to Belozorov, Russian Railways has adopted a Strategy of Scientific and Technological Development for the Period up to 2025 and for the Future until 2030.

The Strategy identifies the main areas of the Russian Railways Holding’s innovative development, which includes the creation of transport process management systems based on artificial intelligence, smart railway stations, the development of promising tools and technologies for the travel complex, fundamentally new rolling stock, the development of traffic safety management systems, heavy and high-speed projects, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

"We have set ourselves the task of being leaders on all fronts. To move on, we have focused on quantum technologies. This direction will be a breakthrough for the railways," said Oleg Belozorov.

He stressed that rail transport has always been safe and reliable. At the same time, one of the challenges of our time was cybersecurity.

The key feature of quantum communications is the ability to build communication systems which are fully protected from hacking because the underlying physical principles guarantee the immutability and reliability of the transmitted information, rather than mathematical algorithms, as is the case in existing cryptographic systems. In the long term, quantum technologies will provide the fastest speeds and data security.

In rail transport, this technology will enable, among other things, the creation of secure systems for collecting data on the state of infrastructure and control signal transmission systems that cannot be replaced.

In the longer term, the use of quantum communications is possible in wireless communications, including satellite communications.

Oleg Belozorov also noted that not all technical issues had been solved and that further research was needed, but said that Russian Railways saw a high potential for quantum technologies.

On 10 July 2019, an agreement of intent was signed in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, between the Russian government and Russian Railways on the development of the high-tech quantum communications field in Russia. Russian Railways has been identified as responsible for the development and promotion of this promising technology.

The Company has already started to develop a road map as provided by the agreement with the Russian government. It will set technological development targets and the measures to achieve them. The planning horizon is up to the end of 2024.

It is planned to prepare the document by the end of 2019 and agree it with all interested parties. It will also be necessary to form a project management team and an expert community.

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