March 3, 2024

Improved onboard connectivity in London tunnels

Feedback from LNER passengers that reliable onboard Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity is a factor in making decisions to travel by train has resulted in work to improve related infrastructure in London, England.

Network Rail and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are collaborating to improve mobile connectivity on the United Kingdom’s East Coast Main Line. The joint project, which is delivering new mobile phone infrastructure into tunnels near London King’s Cross station, has reached an important milestone, with the installation of a bespoke antenna.

The work inside Gasworks and Copenhagen tunnels will mean most train passengers can expect a more reliable and consistent mobile phone and on-train Wi-Fi connection and see the removal of the ‘not-spots’, zones without connectivity, which passengers can experience when travelling through the tunnels.

The successful delivery of the project, funded by LNER working in collaboration with Network Rail and major mobile network operators, will mean the tunnels will be the first on the country’s operational railway to be fitted with the bespoke solution, with the system installed by rail connectivity and technology integration specialist Linbrooke.

Testing has been carried out at Network Rail’s Innovation and Development Centre between Network Rail and the phone companies. The technology will mean that from later this year most passengers will be able to maintain direct voice and data access to their mobile provider, keeping their calls connected and meetings online as they approach and leave the capital.

James Downey, Finance Director at LNER, said: “Our customers have told us that reliable Wi-Fi and mobile connection is a key consideration when they are making decisions about travelling by train, with many expecting the connection on the train to be as strong as home.

“This section of our route is a popular spot for customers to make calls or send messages, as they approach London King’s Cross or just get comfortable in their seat to begin their journey north. Those calls, messages and meetings will now benefit from an improved, more reliable signal, meaning our customers can stay better connected.”

Helen Cavanagh, Head of Passenger Experience for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: “This is a fantastic example of the rail industry and mobile operators working together to improve services and experience for passengers.

“This project will keep most passengers connected with family and friends on the approach to King’s Cross station, helping boost their enjoyment when travelling on the East Coast Main Line.”

Ben Lynch, Managing Director at Linbrooke Rail, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting project which will transform the passenger experience on LNER trains. Delivering new technology and rail infrastructure is at the heart of the Linbrooke business. The location and environment of this project will add to the challenge, but the collective team have made a good start on the construction phase, and I look forward to seeing this continue.”