5G network at Newcastle Central from 2021

Newcastle Central Station, source: Wikimedia Commons

By summer 2021, the passengers travelling via Newcastle Central Station will have a fast and reliable internet connection. British train operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will deploy the 5G network at its hub in Northumberland. The company also plans to improve onboard Wi-Fi connection on the way to Scotland.

LNER will carry out the new digital project in a partnership with mobile phone operator O2. It consists of two phases. First, the partners will boost the onboard internet along a 73-kilometre section of the East Coast route between Newcastle and Edinburgh. This stretch has many locations with a limited or almost non-existent signal. To tackle this, the mobile phone operator will install 12 masts along the route and in nearby communities. The location of the proposed new masts follows almost a year of extensive testing and planning to identify the optimum locations to provide 4G coverage and be 5G ready. At the moment, O2 has already received planning permissions for the first installation in Northumberland County.

The second stage of the project includes the deployment of a 5G network at LNER’s hub in Newcastle. “Newcastle Central Station is a beautiful, iconic building that is a stunning gateway to our city and wider region. It’s not only essential for providing connectivity with the rest of the UK, it’s a major regional transport hub too. Having 5G connectivity will bring together our proud industrial past and our ambitions for the future,” Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said.

Azuma bi-mode train
LNER-branded Azuma bi-mode train, source: London North Eastern Railway (LNER)

Azuma trains

Besides the project with O2, LNER is also improving onboard Wi-Fi connection by introducing new rolling stock with better data streaming option. Last year the railway operator added the Azuma trains to its fleet. They are produced by Hitachi Rail on the basis of its A-Train family. LNER ordered 65 Azuma trains in different formations and specifications including 23 bi-mode (Class 800) and 42 electric vehicles (Class 801). Both types consist of five or nine carriages. Currently, LNER operates more than 50 Azuma trains.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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