Improved Connectivity for Large Transit Agency

MP Antenna Improves Connectivity for Transportation and Rail


Improve connectivity and support positive train control (PTC) technology


Custom enclosures with integrated antennas


A large transit agency needed to improve connectivity for a commuter rail system that serves multiple metropolitan areas in the western United States. The locomotives were equipped with positive train control (PTC), but the radio manufacturer that equipped the trains didn’t provide a mobile antenna solution. To improve the quality and reliability of wireless communications, better antennas were needed not only for the trains but also along the waysides and tracks. 

The transit authority also needed antenna enclosures that could withstand the physical environment in which its trains operate. Although the local climate is generally arid, heavy wintertime snows are not uncommon. During the summer months, daytime temperatures can soar well past 90°F. In this high-altitude region, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are especially intense and could cause plastic enclosures to become brittle and crack, exposing antennas to the elements.

The region’s topography was also challenging. Each day, trains move along miles of track through mountainous regions with line of sight (LOS) obstructions. Yet, there are parts of this transportation network that travel through valleys and flatter areas. Of course, the transit authority was also concerned about expenses and installation costs. Maintenance was an additional concern because removing locomotives from service can inconvenience travelers.


The solution to the transit agency’s problems came from MP Antenna of Elyria, Ohio, a leading designer and manufacturer of Made in USA antennas. The UV-resistant enclosures that MP designed for wayside installations housed radios, hid wiring, and provided weatherproofing for the connections. MP also provided mounting hardware, and each enclosure protected five 4.9 to 5 GHz antennas: four bidirectional antennas and one global positioning system (GPS) antenna. MP even performed thermal testing.

Bidirectional antennas were also installed onboard the locomotives. These antennas can provide either front-and-rear or side-to-side coverage in one plane, and all of MP’s antennas are multi-polarized. With multi-polarization, antennas propagate signals with considerably less loss than most other types of antennas. Multi-polarized antennas perform well in obstructed environments and improve wireless communications for voice and data applications, including PTC systems.

Finally, the transit authority liked how MP Antenna supplied enclosures that were assembled off-site for faster, easier on-site installation. If a problem arises, workers won’t have to troubleshoot units in the field either. Instead, they can simply swap out the enclosure and bring the suspect unit back to a maintenance facility. Commuter trains can continue to run, and with help from antennas that support improved connectivity. If you’re looking to go the distance, contact us.