Russian Railways develop Quantum Communication Roadmap

The roadmap comprises development of nine priority technologies and fifteen products by 2024 along with over 35 key performance indicators.

MOSCOW: Russian Railways has developed the Quantum Communications Development Roadmap and submitted the draft paper to the Russian Government for approval, the railway operator said. The roadmap comprises development of nine priority technologies and fifteen products by 2024 along with over 35 key performance indicators, such as production volumes and sales, length of quantum networks, technologies readiness level, provision of human resources and other parameters.

“Development of the quantum communication technology will make it possible to create comprehensive protected infrastructure of the digital economy and the public administration system, which is particularly important in view of current threats in the information security sphere,” Deputy CEO of Russian Railways Sergei Kobzev said in a comment.

First tests made on the Russian Railways’ infrastructure demonstrated the possibility of building highly protected federal and regional networks based on advance Russian technologies of quantum communication. An opportunity is explored in cooperation with partners to develop a pilot quantum mainline connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, with the total length over 800 km. Implementation of this project will enable rolling out critical services of the new generation. Following an agreement signed between the Russian government and RZD in 2019, the company created a quantum communications department, along with a steering committee which has since held its first meeting via video conference.

“The development of quantum communications technology will allow the creation of a comprehensive secure infrastructure for the digital economy, a public administration system, which is especially important given the modern threats to information security,” says RZD deputy general director and chief engineer, Mr Sergey Kobzev.

Quantum communication takes advantage of the laws of quantum physics to protect data to create ultra-secure networks. Data is transmitted using particles such as photons which cannot be replicated. RZD says the first tests on its infrastructure showed there was a possibility of building highly secure national and regional networks based on advanced Russian quantum communication technologies.

The road map is the result of joint work between RZD, centres of competence and experts in the field, as well as state authorities. The agreement includes the development of nine priority technologies and 15 products by 2024, and outlines more than 35 performance targets, including production and sales volumes, the length of quantum networks, the level of technology readiness, security frameworks and other parameters.

RZD and the Russian government are looking to develop a domestic industry, create markets for goods and services, achieve technological leadership, and form a professional community of researchers and engineers. This will involve the participation of a wide range of participants and partners in areas such as research and development, equipment manufacturing, ecosystem development and financing.

The possibility of an experimental quantum network connecting Moscow and St Petersburg, which would stretch for 800km, is currently being explored. “Russian Railways intends to involve the widest possible number of interested participants and partners in the process of developing quantum communications, and is extremely open to new joint projects,” Kobzev says.

Quantum Communications will span multiple countries by 2030. So … what’s it for?

A year ago last month, Chinese physicists launched the world’s first quantum satellite. Unlike the dishes that deliver your Howard Stern and cricket tournaments, this 1,400-pound behemoth doesn’t beam radio waves. Instead, the physicists designed it to send and receive bits of information encoded in delicate photons of infrared light. It’s a test of a budding technology known as quantum communications, which experts say could be far more secure than any existing info relay system.

They’ve kept the satellite busy. This summer, the group has published several papers in Science and Nature in which they sent so-called entangled photons between the satellite—nicknamed Micius, after an ancient Chinese philosopher—and multiple ground stations. If quantum communications were like mailing a letter, entangled photons are kind of like the envelope: They carry the message and keep it secure. Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, who leads the research on the satellite, has said that he wants to launch more quantum satellites in the next five years. By 2030, he’s hoping that quantum communications will span multiple countries. In 13 years, you can expect quantum internet.

Which means … what exactly? In the simplest terms, it will involve multiple parties pinging information at each other in the form of quantum signals—but experts haven’t really figured out what it will do beyond that. “‘Quantum internet’ is a vague term,” says physicist Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo. “People, including myself, like to use it. However, there’s no real definition of what it means.”

That’s because so much of the technology is still in its infancy. Physicists still can’t control and manipulate quantum signals very well. Pan’s quantum satellite may have been able to send and receive signals, but it can’t really store quantum information—the best quantum memories can only preserve information for less than an hour. And researchers still don’t know what material makes the best quantum memory.

They also aren’t sure how they’d transmit signals efficiently between the nodes of the future quantum web. Blanketing Earth in quantum satellites is expensive—Pan’s cost $100 million. Ground-based transmission via optical fiber isn’t perfect either: Quantum signals die out after about 60 miles of transmission. The signals can’t be amplified like an electronic signal, either. So researchers are developing special devices known as quantum repeaters that can transmit signals over long distances.

That research will take time. Even if Pan gets his international network up and running by 2030, it’s not like it’ll be handling your social media feed by then. And maybe we wouldn’t want it to, either. Just because something is “quantum” doesn’t mean it’s automatically better, says physicist Kai-Mei Fu of the University of Washington. “In many cases, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to communicate quantum mechanically,” she says. Quantum signals have weird properties like superposition, where a particle’s location is a probability distribution, and it has no precise location. Most communication between humans would still be far easier to express by encoding regular old 1’s and 0’s in blips of electricity.

So what’s the point of it? In the near future, the quantum internet could be a specialized branch of the regular internet. Research groups all over the world are currently developing chips that might allow a classical computer to connect to a quantum network. People would use classical computing most of the time and hook up to the quantum network only for specific tasks.

For example, says physicist Renato Renner of ETH Zurich, you might connect a classical personal computer to a quantum network to send a message using quantum cryptography—arguably the most mature quantum technology. In quantum cryptography, a sender uses a cryptographic key encoded in a quantum signal to encrypt a message. According to the laws of quantum mechanics, if someone tried to intercept the key, they would destroy it.

What the Russian Government is doing?

not long ago, We discussed the situation in the transport sector in General and agreed with you, I’ll see you separately to talk about the situation on Russian Railways”, started a conversation Vladimir Putin. This is a key sector for Russia given its territory, the volume of freight of importance to the economy. Special attention the President asked to be given to investment activity. After all, as the largest natural monopolies carry out the investment program depends on the health collectives and the economic condition of many industries. Two weeks ago at a meeting on transport Belozerov said that the company wants to maintain its investment at not less than 620 billion rubles, and maintain this could be due to the perpetual bonds. The government issued a decree on the placement of perpetual bonds RZD 370 billion.

Belozerov thanked for their decisions, which helped to reduce the amount of investment. JSC “RZD” – the leader in safety, energy efficiency and sustainability, is confirmed by international organizations, he said. “On security, our index is higher by 22 percent than the average, – said the head of the company. – We became winners of the competitions leaders of environmental activities”. “In March, we posted “green bonds”. This is a unique mechanism, and about the uniqueness of said rate of 0.84 for six years – 250 million Swiss francs,” said the speaker. In the past year, the net profit has tripled compared to 2018. This is due primarily to the growth of labor productivity – more than 6 percent over the past three years. “A good indicator” – he praised Putin.

For the first four months, the company invested $ 122 billion. “Our investment programme is nearly two million people working. We needed decisions in order for it to continue, and these decisions took place,” thanked Belozerov. “And we don’t leave quantum communication. In 2021, in the first quarter, we want to make a line Moscow – St.-Petersburg. Will be commissioned, we believe that this will improve reliability”, – declared the head of Russian Railways. Previously the company reported that the implementation of the project will implement the critical services of the new generation. Work continues on the unmanned “Swallow.” The Rapporteur also noted the increase in freight – especially container.

Achieved a unique result – done set by the President the task of speed of advance on the territory of Russia. “When the train is moving from China to Europe 2,5 thousand kilometers passes just two days”, – reported Belozerov. The head of Russian Railways told about the work on the Eastern polygon: “Your task we perform. Not just satisfied, but exceeded”. Recall in the East landfill includes BAM and Transsib. “East the landfill is large enough, there also there are different areas and different difficulty for each route. That’s what you think is the key?” – said Putin. “The key challenge is now the problem of Kuzbass. Following your instruction, we have been attached to the Memorandum, the volume of export and support of our colleagues, but we are trying to develop those areas to the economy of the Far East is also developing,” – said Belozerov. “Miners of Kuzbas it is necessary to help,” he said.

the Head of state returned to the subject of the investment program and specify how it will be reduced. “200 billion”, – said the interlocutor: was 820 billion, has now reached 620 billion rubles. “We primarily reduced investment, for example, in the design, which can be a little move,” – said Belozerov. “In the design process, I agree. But in the real sector is desirable all-taki to reduce to a minimum”, – said the President. “It is clear that to invest in anywhere or with big risks should not be”, he continued and asked carefully analyze the opportunities in terms of investment. “We have the option, when we can increase the volume at the expense of our means without the support of the Federal budget. We know how to do it, but we need time to prepare the material,” – said Belozerov.