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Government To Improve Railway Mobile Reception By 2015

mobile phone train signal © Peter Bernik Shutterstock
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Government wants to improve mobile reception on trains

The government is to improve mobile signal along the UK’s busiest railway lines in a bid to address poor reception in so-called mobile ‘not spots’.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin claims 70 percent of the travelling public will benefit from the rollout by 2019, with passengers first noticing improvements in 2015.

The work will be carried out by the rail industry and Network Rail, both of whom will now work on a business case to outline how they will fund the improvements.

Train mobile signals

St Pancras International train station“There are few things more frustrating than trying to phone a friend or access the internet, only to be thwarted by bad signal,” argues 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.

“Be it hardworking commuters preparing for the day on their journey into work or leisure travellers making final plans for their weekend away, today’s announcement marks the beginning of the end of poor coverage on our railways.”

Few technical details have been disclosed, but the government says the signal will be improved through upgrades to existing Network Rail infrastructure and the installation of equipment that enhances existing signals.

Reception troubles

This could include antennas on carriage roofs that receive signals and relay them through repeaters in the train. One of the reasons why reception can be so poor on the railways is because the metallised windows reduce signal penetration, while the speed of the trains means there is frequent switching between mobile base stations.

The London Underground has a Wi-Fi service available at more than 100 stations on the network, but crucially not in the tunnels, and there have been calls for mobile coverage to be extended to the Tube.

Of the ten largest underground networks in the world, the tube is the only one without at least some form of mobile phone connectivity on some underground platforms, but TfL has previously told TechWeekEurope that although it supports the idea in principle, the cost would not justify the rollout.

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