We live in an increasingly connected world and this feeds into a constant need to access the internet on-the-go to receive the latest updates on our news feed and social media channels. On the daily train commute to work or long inter-city train journeys, passengers are often seen plugging in to their devices.
Recognising that connectivity is a priority for passengers and how it can make rail travel more productive, rail operators all over the world are looking to implement free WiFi networks across their train networks. The UK government has committed nearly £50m to provide free WiFi service on trains across England and Wales. In Asia, Seoul boasts the most connected metro network with WiFI coverage on the entire subway network. Closer to home, the Singapore Land Transport Authority is assessing the feasibility of implementing WiFi in trains, thereby improving connectivity.
Before free WiFi services become a normalcy on trains, there are a few pertinent concerns that need to be addressed.
- Infrastructure Supporting a WiFi service in underground tunnels will require the complex installation of required infrastructure. Furthermore, it will require tunnel access during engineering hours where ongoing asset renewal works are taking place. Can rail operators afford to let this take precedence over necessary renewal works?
- Costs Implementing on-board WiFi requires transport authorities or rail authorities to commit a large investment in money and manpower to install the necessary infrastructure. If WiFi services are being rolled out free-of-charge on the entire network, will this be a sustainable model for rail operators or transport authorities to upkeep?
- Network limitations Finally, there is the challenge of maintaining a smooth WiFi experience with potentially many devices tapping on the system. With free WiFi connectivity being an additional delight factor for passengers, it may be good for rail operators to set the expectations right for passengers, just like what Amtrak did. Amtrak has clarified to passengers that its WiFi system is good for general web-browsing but any high-bandwidth actions such as streaming media or downloading large files will not be supported.
Join us at Asia Pacific Rail 2017 as Mr. CC Chang, Committee Member, Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications, addresses the above issues in detail and explores the implementation of free wi-fi networks on Taiwan railways. CC is a veteran in the Taiwan rail industry and his previous positions include President of Taoyuan Metro Corporation and Operation Vice President of Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation.
About Asia Pacific Rail
Now in its 19th edition, Asia Pacific Rail is the largest gathering of senior rail leaders in Asia. With a 4 track premium conference agenda covering key issues across metro, mainline, freight, rolling stock, power, signalling & communications, finance & funding and more, 3 technical seminar theatres in the exhibition hall, over 80 exhibition stands and an Underground/Overground University, our 2017 edition will be our biggest ever. Book your ticket here.