South Western Rail Network to implement ‘5G-rail’


As the rail industry looks forward to the to end of lockdown and return of costumer and commuters under government guidelines. The South Western rail network has taken the initiative to get people back to connecting through offering ‘rail 5G’, a unique opportunity to improve connectivity for rail infrastructure and customers and looks to greatly enhance the customer experience.

Rail-5G is to be designed to work on the existing infrastructure with future deployments being self-powered through solar and wind energy, with the ambition of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral communications system by 2025.

Simon Holmes, FirstGroup’s Head of Engineering Digital Communications and Managing Director of evo-rail, said: “Unlike mobile systems, rail-5G benefits from being designed by railway experts specifically for the railways. The increased bandwidth will, for the first time, provide a significantly improved customer experience for passengers who will now be able to use high-definition video streaming, access office applications, participate in 3D gaming and browse at high speeds, just as they would at home – even when their train is in a tunnel.

With train services to vastly increase in the next couple of weeks, rail-5G will provide a environmentally friendly service with only requiring a fraction of the power of mobile 4G or 5G but communicates data up to 100 times faster than mobile 4G. It will not only deliver a step change to the customer experience but also has the potential to offer an affordable and safe trackside and train system for key operational improvements.

Rail operators have long-sought to improve the quality of Wi-Fi on trains but faced significant cost and technical challenges in doing so. Now, Blu Wireless, FirstGroup and other strategic partners including Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the Department for Culture Media and Sport, have developed an economically viable, end-to-end 5G solution that will transform customers’ journeys.

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