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Huawei Solution Helps Trains Haul More Coal


The Shenhua Group, Chinaʼs state-owned mining and energy company, is China’s largest coal supplier and a Fortune 500 company. The company built the 368-mile-long (594-kilometer) Shuohuang Railway, the longest heavy-haul railway line ever constructed by the company and a significant part of China’s west-east coal shipping route. The railway hauls coal from the mines of Shanxi Province in north China to the port city of Huanghua, south of Beijing on the Bohai Sea. The railway also is a key asset in Shenhua’s power, railway, port, and coal-to-liquids businesses.

The Shenhua Group needed to grow its annual coal-hauling capacity from nearly 250 million tons in 2014 to more than 350 million tons by 2018. That meant increasing the size and hauling capacity of each heavy-haul train from 5,000 tons to 25,000 tons.


Traditional wireless communication systems are burdened by narrow bandwidths and low transmission rates. Moreover, legacy systems are adequate only for voice and low-speed data services. Limited range, capacity, and reliability were the first of many obstacles. The answer: Replace the legacy analog FDMA radio network.

Another challenge was to find an advanced solution to dynamically synchronize the multiple locomotives that power and control the long trains from tip to tail. Synchronization functions include:

  • Extending the communication distance between the master and slave locomotives to up to 1.9 miles (3.5 kilometers)
  • Train tail systems that shorten braking time, improve the operational safety of the train, and reduce problems due to emergency braking
  • Controlling excessive longitudinal impulse during braking that can damage components and cargo, and even derail train cars


The Shenhua Group chose Huawei’s eLTE solution. The eLTE platform provides a stable, low latency transmission link between the front and rear locomotives (with sometimes a locomotive in the middle). There are four main functions:

  • Real-time multiple-locomotive synchronous control data
  • Voice and audio communications
  • Train-to-ground video
  • Non-real-time dispatch transmissions, train IDs, and train-to-ground service data


  • Wide coverage, short delay, and high bandwidth
  • A 1.8 GHz TD-LTE network implements multiple-locomotive control over 20,000-ton trains
  • Extended transmission distance and reduced latency
  • Full redundancy to ensure 99.999 percent system availability
  • Dual-network coverage and multiple-priority Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms for zero operational interruption
  • Whole-line dispatch and video surveillance of the driver’s compartment

The success of the Huawei eLTE solution proved to be a major innovation in the operation of heavy-haul railways.

“Huawei’s eLTE network has created a strong foundation for reaching our targeted capacity of 350 million tons by 2018,” said Cao Yanping, Deputy General Manager, Shuohuang Railway. “In addition, the broadband trunking platform enables a diversified package of business services in a single network that includes dispatching and wireless video transmission for real-time monitoring of the track and checking drop off of cargo from the carriages — a step that, prior to eLTE deployment, had to be done manually and at great risk to the operator.”

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