Better Wi-Fi Promised on Some South Western Railway Services

Trains between Basingstoke and Earlsfield to get faster broadband

It is hoped internet speeds on board will be as fast as at home or in the office


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South Western Railway passengers using services between Basingstoke and Earlsfield are being promised faster internet services by early next year.

New technology is being installed alongside over 70km of track with the aim of significantly improving on board Wi-Fi.

The rail-5G project to deploy superfast on-board Wi-Fi is being worked on by evo-rail and SWR, in partnership with Network Rail. They have now installed the first series of rail-5G poles on the line between the stations on the South West Main Line.

It will be the first railway line in the mainland UK to deploy the rail-5G technology for customer use and over 100 trains already fitted to accommodate the solution.

Evo-rail, a telecoms company part of FirstGroup, has developed rail-5G as the first multi-gigabit internet solution built for the railways. It claims that Rail-5G can dramatically improve connectivity on trains, with the technology enabling the delivery of superfast continuous internet, at 50 times the current average speeds.

It is promised that passengers will be able to enjoy levels of connectivity similar to what they are used to at home or in the office, allowing them to stream videos, make video calls, download large files, and much more.

The solution has undergone a large-scale pilot on SWR’s Island Line on the Isle of Wight. According to SWR, the trial proved that the rail-5G solution can consistently deliver one gigabit per second (Gbps) throughput to a moving train, so now the technology is being rolled out to other parts of the SWR network.

Rail-5G has been developed and designed as a specialist solution for the railways. As well as exceeding all the standards and regulations set in Europe and the UK for trackside and train installations, it has been designed to be quick to install, sustainable, and deliver a return on investment for train operators.

The technology uses poles and antennas to create a radio network, accessible to both the trains’ operational systems and customers on board.

Full deployment is likely to complete and launch for customer use in early 2023.

Christian Neill, Customer Experience Director for South Western Railway, commented, “South Western Railway is committed to providing a modern customer experience for the digital age and rolling out new superfast internet, at 50 times the current average speeds, is an integral part of our plan to do that.”

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October 26, 2022

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