Phone coverage has always been rather hit and miss when travelling by train, but this latest deal promises continuous 5G connectivity on the Brighton Mainline that runs from London to Brighton.
The deal between Network Rail and Cellnex UK means the new infrastructure will be available to all operators, and the work will include the installation of new mobile towers, equipment boxes alongside the railway, plus high-capacity fibre running the entire length of the mainline.
Bespoke radio equipment will be used to ensure contiguous coverage throughout the many tunnels along the line, as well as the many cuttings that have proved so difficult to cover so far (although in my personal experience, Vodafone has done a great job of offering almost continuous 4G coverage from London to Gatwick Airport).
The project is expected to take two to three years to deliver, but some locations will see improvements far sooner – with London Bridge and Victoria stations fully covered by April 2022.
“Network coverage along our most important rail route between London and the south coast is patchy and frustrating for our passengers. Getting an uninterrupted connection, even through the tunnels, will be brilliant – and having that in superfast 5G will be even better. We’re responding to customer feedback with this project – and communities along the route will benefit too. This is great piece of work.”Keith Jipps, Infrastructure Director, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)
“The Brighton Mainline and its branch lines carry around 1,700 trains and 300,000 passengers a day at their busiest, through one of the UK’s most densely populated areas.
“The ability to stay connected on the go is now a basic expectation – one that is shared by Network Rail, train operators, government and, of course, passengers themselves.
“This deal will give passengers and communities near the railway seamless phone and internet connectivity, including in stations, tunnels and cuttings, all the way from London right down to the south coast.”Shaun King, Sussex route director, Network Rail
“Cellnex UK is working with Network Rail to make a positive and significant contribution to Network Rail’s vision of ‘Putting Passengers First’, its day-to-day business and the wider UK Government’s Digital Strategy. Cellnex UK is the perfect choice as neutral host to deliver passenger connectivity, achieve Network Rail’s goals and to support the MNOs.”David Crawford, Managing Director, Cellnex UK
The Brighton Mainline runs 51 miles from London to the South, through many densely populated areas. At its busiest (pre-pandemic), the mainline and branch lines carry 1,700 trains and approximately 300,000 passengers every single day.
This work will also bring environmental benefits by encouraging more people to travel by train, which in turn will reduce traffic on the M25, M23 and A23.