News from BWCS

Indian Railways to Roll Out Solar-Power Along Tracks – Next to LTE-R

Tue 4 Feb 2020

The national rail operator has received a significant boost in the Indian government’s recently announced 2020-2021 Railway Budget. Unveiling a new spending spree set to be lavished on the country’s rail network and trains, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that her administration will introduce as many as 150 public-private train services within four years.

Ms Sitharaman also revealed that the Rail Operator will receive funding to begin building a huge network of solar panels to run alongside its tracks. This, she underlined, will provide cheaper electricity to Indian Railways and help it to become a net-zero carbon producer by 2030.

The Minister also announced funds for redeveloping and modernizing four major rail hubs, turning them into airport style terminals. Indian Railways has already installed fast WiFi connectivity at 5,500 train stations across the sub-continent.

The government said it is keen to invite private operators to run trains on the Indian Railways network. In the coming years, the Minister said, more Tejas Express-style trains will be put into service on key tourism routes. These trains were some of the first to offer WiFi in india. Overall, the government believes as many as 150 private trains could be up and running within four years.

Last year, Indian Railways subsidiary, RailTel, announced an ambitious plan to leapfrog GSM-R technology and opt instead for the more advanced trackside connectivity solution LTE-R. The company said it plans to introduce trackside LTE-R in four separate phases of construction, covering a total of 64,000km of track. Eventually, the LTE-R network will provide high-speed, on-board internet connectivity right across the vast, sprawling Indian Railways network.

So far, a 650km trial section of track has been equipped to offer LTE-R services. Based on the feedback from trials on four different sections of this track, RailTel says it will float tenders for the entire network. Phase 1 will cover the “Golden Triangle” which accounts for 75% - 80% of India Railways high-use and high revenue tracks – some 10,000km.

Previously RailTel and Indian Railways trialled satellite-delivered WiFi services on Express trains between Delhi and Kolkata. However, according to the companies these ran into cost and bandwidth issues which forced RailTel to look elsewhere. The new LTE-R system will now form the bedrock of its network-wide on-board WiFi services.

On-train WiFi services, trackside networks, the growing market for passenger WiFi and on-board entertainment will be the main subjects of BWCS’s WiFi on Trains Conference later this year. For information on speaking and sponsorship opportunities at the 2020 event, please contact .

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Also, for Wireless Suppliers who may be interested, BWCS has launched a brand new conference on the growing market for private wireless networks and 5G services at Ports – please see where the full programme is now available.

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