South West to Benefit From “Proper” On-Train WiFi Says Minister(24 Apr 2017, BWCS Staff)
UK Deputy-Transport Minister, Paul Maynard, has promised that the new high-speed trains slated for duty in the South West of England will be fitted with “better WiFi”. Reports in the local press quoted Maynard, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, confirming that the 36 Hitachi trains, set to be rolled out on the Great Western Railway next year, “Will put an end to commuters' frustration at being unable to get online.”
Responding to Parliamentary questions from, Johny Mercer, the Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, Maynard said “The new rolling stock in the Intercity Express Programme will be fitted with on-board servers that will be capable of using both 3G mobile signals and WiFi services available along the rail route. The design also supports use of 4G and WiMAX communications as an option."
Mr Maynard said better web access is being discussed as part of the Great Western Rail franchising talks.
Meanwhile, on South West Trains, the other franchise that runs services into the Southwestern corner of the UK, Icomera, is fulfilling its contract to install free WiFi on board the fleet of Class 158 /159 trains. The project will see the UK/Swedish WiFi specialist install its mobile Internet connectivity system on 41 trains, in addition to those already kitted out for WiFi by Nomad Digital. For the first time. WiFi will be available on services running West of Salisbury, which will come as a relief to passengers who have long petitioned for such an extension.
Earlier in 2016, SWT had announced that, thanks to an agreement with Nomad Digital, it was able to offer passenger WiFi on 127 of its Class 450 trains. This followed earlier work by the Newcastle-based tech supplier which had previously put WiFi onto South West’s 45 Class 444 ‘Desiro’ trains, around half the services South West runs.
It is widely accepted that, in many ways, the UK is leading the field in the race to get WiFi onto trains. Earlier this, year both Chiltern Railways and Arriva Train Wales joined the growing number of regional train operators to announce plans to launch passenger WiFi on board their services. Certainly, the government appears happy to get on board with Mr Maynard confirming that “We are committed to ensuring that at least 90% of services provide free WiFi by the end of 2018 and expect that virtually all trains will be fitted by 2020.”
All of the key issues surrounding the expanding market for on-train passenger WiFi services will be fully examined at this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference hosted by BWCS. For more information on the upcoming event please see www.Traincomms2017.com or contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com .
This year's Train Communications System Conference is sponsored by Icomera (Gold), Nomad Digital (Silver), Fluidmesh (Bronze), 21Net (Cocktails), LetsJoin (Lunch Day 1) and RADWIN (Lunch Day 2).