Network Rail to boost mobile broadband on trains

Network Rail will work with industry partners to boost mobile broadband connections for train passengers by 2019

A scheme to boost mobile broadband signals on trains across the UK has been announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

The project will be led by Network Rail, with contributions from industry partners, and aims to bring 70% of rail travellers better connectivity by 2019, although the technological benefits could be felt as early as 2015.

“There are few things more frustrating than trying to phone a friend or access the internet, only to be thwarted by bad signal,” said McLoughlin. “Passengers deserve to have the best mobile technology, and that is why I am pleased that industry is coming together to make that a reality.”

Little detail has been announced regarding what technologies will be used to improve the existing mobile infrastructure and any new additions, but a spokesman from Network Rail told Computer Weekly it would be working with mobile operators to come up with the best solution.

“As an industry, we recognise that the limited availability of mobile communications on Britain’s rail network is not good enough. If rail is to remain a preferred mode of transport, this must be addressed, which is why the announcement is good news for the millions of people who travel by train each day," the spokesman said.

“We believe that Network Rail is best placed to help resolve this in a way that does not impact on the safe operation of the railway,” he added.

But details of how the scheme would be paid for were also thin on the ground. A statement from the department for transport said Network Rail would work with industry partners, both technical and train operators, to come up with a business plan in the coming months and work out how to fund improvements.

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