News

Houston – We Have a Problem – with the WiFi.

(31 Mar 2020, BWCS Staff)
The City of Houston is to expand a trial WiFi service to include all of its trains, buses and para-transport vehicles. According to the Texan city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, its entire fleet of 1,736 vehicles will be kitted out to offer the service over the next 15 months. However, while the MTA admits that on-transit WiFi services have been high on its riders’ wish-list of improvements for some time, the City has been slow in agreeing to implement it. In fact, it was back in December 2018 that the MTA first announced a six-month test of WiFi on certain local bus and......

Nomad Wins Major Contract to Supply WiFi on Danish/Swedish Öresund Trains

(18 Mar 2020, BWCS Staff)
Nomad Digital has won a large order to supply its WiFi on-board solution to trains running on the Danish-Swedish Öresund routes. According to the UK supplier, the “multi-million pound” deal will see it kit out 111 trains, increasing its share of the market in both Denmark and Sweden. The Newcastle-based company is to supply, design and deliver a complete on-train Passenger WiFi solution and provide maintenance and operation services. Nomad Digital’s new contract builds on its existing relationship with DSB, the Danish national train operator. At the same time, it says it......

London Underground Gets Partial 4G Coverage as Trial Kicks Off

(18 Mar 2020, BWCS Staff)
Today, March 18th, sees the start of a long-promised trial of 4G mobile services along part of the London Underground. TfL said the service will be available on the platforms and tunnels of a section of the Jubilee line between Westminster and Canning Town. London Bridge and Waterloo stations will follow later in the year. The latest attempt to eliminate what has been dubbed the UK’s largest “not-spot” comes as a result of a 2015 initiative put forward by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. At the time the plan called for 4G by 2019. In 2017, Transport for London (TfL)......

New Dish to Boost Appetite for Satellite-Delivered Data to Trains?

(27 Feb 2020, BWCS Staff)
A Scottish research team claims to have developed a new type of Hybrid Flat Panel Antenna capable of delivering fast on-train Internet connections. The group, based at Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, says it will streamline satellite data delivery to trains by-passing patchy 4g/5G mobile network systems. As things stand, trains, ships and aircraft can be adapted to house motorised dishes or antennas that automatically lock on to a Satellite to supply data connectivity. However, to date, these systems have tended to be bulky and costly, which has meant they are often unsuitable for......

Chennai Metro Riders to get Access to “Closed-Loop” WiFi System

(26 Feb 2020, BWCS Staff)
Passengers travelling on the Chennai Metro will soon be able to access a slew of TV and film content, via a Closed-loop, in-train WiFi system. The free service is to be supplied by local start-up Sugarbox and, according to reports in the Hindu newspaper, is set to begin operations “by the end of this week”. The system is distinct from the on-station WiFi services, provided by AirTel to Chennai Metro passengers, which went into operation in November last year. Officials of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), quoted by the Hindu, claimed commuters will merely have to download the......

UK Rail Franchise System to be Scrapped - Report

(17 Feb 2020, BWCS Staff)
The UK is on track to radically overhaul the nation’s rail operations by doing away with the current system of franchising. At the same time, according to reports in The Sunday Telegraph, Boris Johnson’s administration plans to place a limit on profits that can be made by private train operators. Passenger train services in the UK are currently divided into regional franchises run by private train operating companies under seven to eight-year contracts. Most of these are awarded by the Department for Transport (with the exception of Merseyrail and ScotRail). There are currently......

New National Infrastructure Commission Report Demands Clear Plans for Progress on Mobile Connectivity Across the UK Rail Network

(06 Feb 2020, BWCS Staff)
The UK National Infrastructure Commission has produced a damming report on lack of government progress in improving mobile and hence WiFi coverage on the national rail network. The Commission claims that progress on fixing gaps in connectivity alongside train tracks has stalled since the government accepted the findings of the Commission’s 2016 Connected Future report. The new report, “Connected Future: Getting Back on Track” – published today, points to lack of leadership from government, frequent ministerial changes, and split departmental responsibilities as the......

Indian Railways to Roll Out Solar-Power Along Tracks – Next to LTE-R

(04 Feb 2020, BWCS Staff)
The national rail operator has received a significant boost in the Indian government’s recently announced 2020-2021 Railway Budget. Unveiling a new spending spree set to be lavished on the country’s rail network and trains, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that her administration will introduce as many as 150 public-private train services within four years. Ms Sitharaman also revealed that the Rail Operator will receive funding to begin building a huge network of solar panels to run alongside its tracks. This, she underlined, will provide cheaper electricity to Indian......

Will Finnish 4G Really Boost On-Train WiFi Services?

(14 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
Finnish national railway company VR Group is negotiating with mobile network operators for the supply of better internet connection in trains. According to reports in the press, an improved service is expected to be offered from next month – using 4G signal along all routes. However, some commentators are sceptical about the level of change passengers should expect to see. For one thing, the coverage requirement was in the original terms of the 4G-licences, which stated that the new service must cover the state-owned tracks. Yet, the licences failed to stipulate field strengths or......

Over £9 Million Up for Grabs in Bid to Boost New Rail Technology Services

(13 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
The UK Department for Transport is inviting bids for parts of a pot of £9.4 million as it aims to encourage new technologies designed to improve rail services. The cash, which is being made available via Innovate UK, will be doled out in chunks of £100,000 - £400,000 and organisations of any size may apply.   According to Innovate UK, the competition is designed “To fund projects which demonstrate for the first time how proven technologies, such as automation or innovative uses of data, could be used on the railways. The projects must seek to demonstrate......

Early Christmas Present as Ofcom and DfT Publish Data on UK Trackside Connectivity

(09 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
Christmas has come early for the hardy band of souls with an interest in improving train to shore wireless links – Ofcom has released its findings on the state of connectivity along the UK rail corridor.  Since October 2017 the UK telecoms regulator has been collecting data related to mobile signal strengths along the length and breadth of Britain’s railways. To do this, it has employed a series of four of Network Rail’s so-called “yellow” engineering trains. Now, just in time for the Festive Period, Ofcom is releasing the data collected between June 2018......

Swiss Trains to Offer Passengers GoMedia’s On-Board Infotainment Services

(08 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
UK-based on-train infotainment provider GoMedia has announced a major tie-up with Swiss National train operator SBB. Passengers travelling with SBB will now be able to receive passenger information services (PIS) throughout their journey. Initially at least, the free service will only be available on the operator’s International fleet of trains across Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. The roll out of services, which started last month, will also enable customers to use GoMedia’s onboard entertainment platform to access up-to-date journey information such as the live train......

BART Reveals Plan to Improve WiFi on Trains and Make Money

(08 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
The San Francisco based Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) says it has developed a plan to greatly improve cellular connectivity and WiFi coverage on its trains. The scheme, which will include improved links in stations and all along the agency’s public rights of way, will also, apparently, generate “substantial” revenue for the transit organisation. Later this week, the BART Board of Directors will vote on an agreement that’s been in the works for several years between the transit agency and Mobilitie, one of the largest private wireless infrastructure companies in the......

Delhi Launches First Part of its Metro-Wide WiFi on Board System

(06 Jan 2020, BWCS Staff)
Delhi Metro has launched high-speed WiFi on its Airport Express train services and promised a swift roll out to the rest of the network. The free WiFi service is being installed and operated by the New Delhi-based Maxima Digital and Techno Sat Comm Consortium backed by Russian telco MaximaTelecom – which itself is behind the on-train WiFi services on the Moscow and St Petersburg Metros. The Airport Express Line connects New Delhi Railway Station in the heart of India’s capital to terminal T3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport. It runs for 22.7km and comprises six stations.......

Virgin, Vodafone and McLaren Applied Trial 5G WiFi Services on-board West Coast Trains

(06 Dec 2019, BWCS Staff)
In the dying days of its franchise to operate trains on the UK’s West Coast Mainline, Virgin Trains has announced that it is trialling on-board 5G WiFi services. Virgin has been working with McLaren Applied and Vodafone to test the train to shore super-fast broadband. According to a combined statement from the companies involved, issued this morning, the technology has been trialled last month on services between London Euston and Birmingham New Street, and London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly. The trial participants are adamant that tests will continue after the switch-over......

Save the Date - Next Year’s WiFi on Trains Conference – Details Announced

(26 Nov 2019, BWCS Staff)
BWCS has announced that next year’s WiFi on Trains Conference - TrainComms2020 - will take place on June the 10th and 11th. Already, the consultancy has signed up train operators from around the world to give their first-hand accounts of adding and upgrading WiFi services on their trains. There are more details on the brand-new website www.Traincomms.com “We’ve been heavily involved in this sector during this year, in particular”, reports Ross Parsons head of Transport at BWCS, “Both in consultancy and via launching and updating the online market database......

WiFi on Indian Trains - “Within Four and a Half Years”

(25 Oct 2019, BWCS Staff)
Indian Rail Minister, Piyush Goyal, confirmed today that the government will push ahead with plans to put WiFi services in Indian trains over the next few years. He also said that the government is planning to provide free WiFi service in over 6,000 railway stations in India. Once the project to provide WiFi at stations across subcontinent has been completed, the government says it will start to roll out WiFi on board the trains themselves. Mr Goyal said the service will be free to passengers. He went on to state that the services should be up and running by the middle of 2024. In a......

Texas City to Trial WiFi on Trains – Courtesy of Microsoft

(16 Oct 2019, BWCS Staff)
The city of Houston is to trial WiFi on board some local trains as part of a wide-ranging partnership with tech giant Microsoft. Metro – as the local transit agency is known – said it hopes to gather feedback from passengers on the selected services with a view to expanding the system to its entire Metro Rail network. The city’s Metro Rail system carries some 18.35 million riders a year on its 23 miles of track and the pilot scheme will be available on the East End and Southeast Lines. WiFi on board is also being trialled on two of the city’s bus routes. The test......

Finland to Force Mobile Companies to Cover Their Tracks

(15 Oct 2019, BWCS Staff)
Trains in Finland are to benefit from much improved on-train WiFi and 4G mobile connections along the length of the track. The Helsinki administration plans to force Finland’s three mobile network operators (MNOs) to ensure that a 4G signal is available all along all rail routes in the country – “no matter how remote”. According to national train operator VR’s own figures, 27% of passengers currently deem the mobile network and resultant WiFi service to be poor, while only 31% consider it to be good or very good. Of course, it is not only when trains......

Government and Telco Act Together to Reduce Blackspots and Add WiFi on NSW Rail Route

(07 Oct 2019, BWCS Staff)
Australian commuters riding the rails between Newcastle and Sydney have finally begun benefiting from long-promised improved mobile coverage. The AU$29 million infrastructure upgrade is being funded by national telecoms company Telstra in conjunction with the state and federal governments. According to local press reports, the first sections of the NSW rail corridor are now fitted with new mobile base stations and free WiFi at some stations. Federal Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, said last Friday that Telstra had completed the first stage of the planned mobile upgrade project......
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