Faster on-board coverage is already here

As a regular user of train services, it’s always good to read about investments and ideas that will improve the passenger experience. So recently it brought a smile to my face when I read that DfT is on the cusp of privatising thousands of miles of trackside phone lines in order to provide customers with improved on-board internet coverage. This initiative is thanks to Great British Railways’ eagerness to harness private sector investment to revitalise the network.

While this is welcome news, it isn’t really ‘new’ news. For some time evo-rail, a private sector company has been investing time and money into the infrastructure that delivers those ‘phone lines’, fixing it where broken and adding new capacity where required. evo-rail is also deploying new fibre and a new radio network to enable onboard internet coverage which is many times faster than levels passengers experience today, and indeed what any mobile operator can currently deliver. evo-rail can deliver connectivity to the train in excess of 1Gb/s as seen on our test line on the Isle of Wight.

Working closely with Network Rail, in the coming months evo-rail will be deploying their technology on the South Western Railway line. This will deliver WiFi on trains akin to levels we are used to at home or in the office, for thousands of customers between Basingstoke and Earlsfield. Thanks to our innovative technology and the fact that it has been developed specifically for the railways, evo-rail can deploy their technology in a matter of months delivering for customers almost immediately.

This will create a step-change in on-board WiFi and allow all commuters to begin their working day as soon as they step on the train, or stream the news, watch Netflix, and play online games while not having to struggle with poor connection either from their mobile operator or the current onboard WiFi.

Delivering for passengers doesn’t have to take years. Thanks to the teamwork between SWR, Network Rail and evo-rail we will be delivering superfast and always available WiFi to our railways in the next few months. Next, we will move to do the same for a major intercity route to encourage business and even more leisure passengers back.

It’s challenging, exciting and, as both someone involved in the project, and a customer who will use it, there’s definitely a reason to smile.