4.5 million for better internet on long-distance trains in Finland

source: VR Group

Finnish state-owned railway company VR will improve the internet connection of long-distance trains for 4.5 million euros. The reform will provide faster and more consistent internet access to Pendolinos, Intercity trains and double-decker night trains. The first renovations will be completed by the end of 2021. For passengers, the connection should be up to five times faster on average.

Data usage has increased sharply in recent years and digital services are used regardless of time and place. There is an increasing desire to make use of train travel for work. According to customer surveys of VR, the functionality of the train’s internal network is one of the most important elements influencing the customer experience.

“The current internet connection on the trains no longer meets our customers’ current or future needs”, says Topi Simola, Director of Passenger Transport. “The internet connection varies from train to train and place to place: in some trains the connection works well all the way, during the train journey to use the digital services they want, to participate in meetings without any problems and to work efficiently.”

Modifying rolling stock

The reform will replace the current train intranet with high-speed and modern network technology. The equipment needed to produce the network will be completely overhauled. Cables are installed between the carriages, so that the network connection is maintained even when moving from one carriage to another. Modifications to the rolling stock will take place in stages. The first trains on the faster network will be operational by the end of 2021, and all trains will be overhauled during 2022.

VR will continue active discussions with telecom operators and authorities in order to have more masts and base stations along the track and also to develop a track-side broadband network. These investments are a necessary and natural next step in the development of train network connections, and also support the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ ongoing Digirata project, which aims towards digital and intelligent rail transport.

Improving connectivity

VR has also used customer surveys to find out where and how customers use the network and what their expectations are of the train network. On the basis of the studies, various options were reviewed for the development of the train network and a new solution was built. The solution has been tested on test trips, the results of which are good according to VR. Customer surveys in the background will be completed during 2022.

“The good experience from the test trips confirmed that we want to make this big investment. We hope that telecom operators will invest in a trackside broadband network to improve train connectivity”, says Simola.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor RailTech.com

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