About Us

FirstGroup has been working with University of Bristol, supported by the DFT, over the last 5 years to research and develop a rail-5G (mmWave) technology to address the lack of mobile coverage of our railways and meet the ever-growing demand for connectivity, vastly improving the customer experience on board. We deliver the end-to-end solution of trackside and train that will greatly improve customer connectivity and deliver up to 1Gbps throughout to the train, as opposed to 10-20Mbps today. With rail-5G, passengers will have a similar, if not better, connected experience than they do at home or work.


The only proven rail solution that delivers >600Mbps (up to 2.5Gbps)

Specifically designed for rail customers by a rail operator

Communications technology with strong environmental credentials, relying on exceptionally low power supply while maintaining ultra-high bandwidth

Delivering cost effective, high speed Wi-Fi for on-board connectivity that’s 10x less expensive than mobile data

Select from a fully managed or licensed solution to suit your needs. The infrastructure, radon’s communications system, trackside and train networks are included in both packages




The first incarnation of rail-5G came in 2016 when Prof. Andrew Nix combined beamforming technology with Fixed Wireless Access in the mmWave band to demonstrate transmitting almost a gigabit on to a moving train. This spawned multiple consortiums that ended in FirstGroup leading the Dali trials.



Whilst Mantra was a collection of components and a proof of concept, the Dali trials were to test the first generation radio system developed from Mantra in a fully functioning railway. This taught us that whilst the radio might work, networking the traffic and delivering it in a safe and cost effective way would be a greater challenge. We proved the radio was capable of over a gigabit throughput, but we urgently needed on-train integration and a trackside network, let alone a doubling of the radio’s segments range.



The Degas Programme is now nearing its completion and was about integration: on-train and trackside, whilst upgrading to the new second generation radio equipment. Degas is to proceed to the first commercial rollout which will be on one of the world’s busiest railways, South West Railways (SWR). This will start in 2020 following the final stress testing of rail-5G ahead of Network Rail’s Product Acceptance, trackside and train design approvals and compliance with a dizzying array of European health and safety regulations.


2020 Onwards

Having spent five years creating the rail-5G solution, the next phase in evo-rail’s journey will be delivery and globalisation. Delivering SWR and Avanti West Coast, nearly 300km’s of rail-5G will reach past Birmingham whilst we also embark on our plans for global expansion.


  • FirstGroup is a leading transport operator in the UK and North America. With approximately £7.8 billion in revenues and more than 100,000 employees, we transported around 2.1 billion passengers last year across our five divisions.
  • The Group functions focus on fostering a high performance culture, developing and managing our talent, establishing and monitoring key objectives and standards across the Group, and providing support and challenge to our divisions.
  • 5 years ago, FirstGroup began working with the University of Bristol to research and develop a rail-5G (mmWave) technology to address the lack of mobile coverage of the railways which is how evo rail became a division of FirstGroup.