Avanti West Coast invests £45 million to upgrade wi-fi coverage across west coast main line
Avanti West Coast is investing £45m (€52.90m) in a deal with BT to upgrade mobile and Wi-Fi infrastructure to improve connectivity for customers travelling on the West Coast Main Line.
The partnership will see BT add network capacity to nearly 200 cell masts via its mobile arm EE, boosting 4G network coverage on the West Coast route by June 2023 that will enable faster, more reliable onboard train Wi-Fi.
Investment by both organisations is designed to enhance and expand Wi-Fi coverage for customers travelling onboard Avanti West Coast trains through technology upgrades and addressing Wi-Fi blackspots where signal is weak or non-existent.
The programme, which is underway, will improve connectivity and digital experience while on the move. Customers connected to the onboard Wi-Fi will be able to browse the internet, send and receive emails and make video calls more seamlessly.
While BT will provide the infrastructure and connectivity to enable the onboard Wi-Fi, upgrades to the Wi-Fi system will be made by Avanti West Coast, as part of its investment. This will enable a reliable connection for customers accessing the internet for free on their device.
Technology enhancements and additional masts will also provide better connectivity for EE customers who are local to the West Coast Main Line, as well as emergency service respondents in the area with faster data transfer speeds available and more mobile devices able to use the network simultaneously.
This will enhance coverage in areas with existing 4G, as well as introduce new 4G coverage. Areas that will benefit include Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and Staffordshire as well as regions of Lancashire, Cumbria, and Edinburgh.
Rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, says, “Avanti West Coast’s upgrade work, supported by the Department for Transport, is a win for everyone who uses, or lives close to the West Coast Main Line.
“Investing in better connectivity helps transform rail travel, improving journeys for passengers by building a black-spot free network, with the added benefit of supporting local communities.”
Phil Whittingham, managing director at Avanti West Coast, says, “This is a really exciting partnership with BT. The benefits of working with the UK’s telecommunications and network provider on this project will enhance reliability of our onboard Wi-Fi and give our customers faster speeds and extended coverage on our route.
“It’s a significant step towards better digital connectivity on the West Coast Main Line, which has never been more important. These improvements will enable our customers to stay connected during their journey and be more productive onboard our trains, while boosting mobile coverage for communities local to our route.”
Sarah Walker, BT corporate and public sector director and enterprise sponsor for UK Rail Strategy, says, “The West Coast Main Line is one of the UK’s busiest transport routes and, as more people begin returning to offices and others travel for leisure purposes, they will enjoy an enhanced mobile service, delivering quality and reliable connectivity whilst onboard.
“Whether needing to join a call for work, listen to music or simply browse the internet, our network has been designed to ensure seamless connectivity for passengers. Not only will the investment in 4G infrastructure benefit rail users, but it will also improve connectivity in towns and villages where masts have been installed or upgraded.”