ScotRail to test utrafast Wi-Fi on board

The train service operator ScotRail, is set to trial what is billed as the world’s fastest in-train Wi-Fi service. The rail operator has teamed up with Network Rail Telecoms, Cisco, CGI, and Wittos to collaborate on a trial of a 300Mbps on-board Wi-Fi network. The proof of concept ultrafast Wi-Fi onboard, funded by Innovate UK and the Rail Safety and Standards Board, is called Project Swift.

Rob Shorthouse, ScotRail’s alliance communications director , said this pilot scheme undertaken on behalf of the rail industry, will help them understand how to push train Wi-Fi to the next level. He said they were delighted to be in the project, as customers expect on their journey fast reliable Wi-Fi.

Innovation lead for connected transport at Innovate UK, Kelvin Davies, said the project is to deliver what is expected to be a very successful demonstration set between Glasgow ad Edinburgh, bringing together a unique combination of technology and skills, potentially significant for UK and worldwide.

Project Swift, with support of Collaborative Research & Engineering Technologies (Create) division, aims to highlight how ultra-fast connectivity can enhance the passengers’ travelling experience. The technology already is working on a test track on a full-scale train, close to Stratford-upon-Avon. The Wi-Fi network to be trialled will also be used by partners, like the supplier of behavioural analytics – Wittos, to test out other services.

Other small and medium sized enterprises and start-ups are also being invited to join the open innovation challenge, to build new applications for operators and passengers, using live data from the train. Scot Gardner, CEO for UK and Ireland at CISCO, said if just a fraction of the time spent on travel is more productive, the potential is huge for commuters, train operators and the whole of UK.

Slow connectivity on British trains is acute and with key parts of the rail network out of mobile coverage, improving Wi-Fi seems a more achievable short-term goal than upgrade of 4G infrastructure.

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