ScotRail to trial ‘fastest train wi-fi in the world’

ScotRail commuters riding between Edinburgh and Glasgow are set to trial “the fastest in-train wi-fi service in the world.”

ScotRail is collaborating with Cisco, CGI, Network Rail Telecoms and Wittos on an Innovate UK and Rail Safety and Standards Boardfunded proof of concept trial called Project SWIFT to enable super-fast wi-fi on trains.

Cisco said the project will see ScotRail trialling “the fastest in-train wi-fi service in the world, allowing users to experience internet speeds on the go of up to 300 Mbps.”

Cisco said: “Currently, those travelling by train between Scotland’s two biggest cities can access less than 10% of that capability; the difference between streaming a music service with interrupted coverage, and downloading the entire Beatles back catalogue, seamlessly in under two minutes.”

Cisco said Project SWIFT has been initially implemented on a full scale train and test track near Stratford-upon-Avon “and will now see a limited duration roll-out on one of the current fleet of ScotRail trains that operate services between Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

The project will utilise existing trackside fibre “to backhaul data from trackside masts.”

Both existing and newly installed masts will be used along the Edinburgh-Glasgow route to ensure that consistent coverage can be trialled along the line, regardless of tunnels and cuttings.

The proof of concept trial will commence later this year, and run until the end of March 2018.

Cisco said that with the existing in-train mobile service in the UK, 33% of internet requests on trains fail “and with 1.4 billion journeys a year, that equates to millions of lost hours of productivity, missed opportunity for online retailers, and potentially dissatisfied passengers.”

Cisco added: “Consistent, high speed connectivity on trains provides a significant opportunity for not only the rail industry, but the UK as a whole.”

Cisco UK & Ireland CEO Scot Gardner said: “Project SWIFT embodies the art of the possible.

“If the UK is to truly benefit from what digital technologies have to offer, then connectivity has to be a given – even when travelling at 140mph …

“If only a fraction of the time that we spend travelling is made more productive, the potential for commuters, the train companies and the UK as a whole is immense.”

Rob Shorthouse, ScotRail Alliance communications director said: “We are delighted to be a part of this project.

“Our customers consistently tell us that one of the things that they expect on their journey is fast, reliable wi-fi.

“This pilot scheme, which we are undertaking on behalf of the entire rail industry, will allow us to fully understand how we take our current on-train wi-fi to the next level.

“We are really excited to be involved.”