back to article Industry infighting means mobile users face long delays on UK trains

Mobile coverage on trains is rubbish, Wi-Fi isn’t much better and battles between companies offering the services are not going to make it much better. A plan to offer fibre running down the side of the tracks, which would have given great Wi-Fi coverage, has been abandoned, despite Network Rail’s 2013 technical strategy …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    2nd Class?

    3rd Class or Steerage if you ask me. (wasn't is 2nd class that got abolished in the early days of BR?)

    Normal mobile coverage on trains is more of a problem than the article makes out.

    1) Still lots of NOT SPOTS even within 40 miles of The house of fools (Westminster)

    2) What about those NOT SPOTS called tunnels?

    Coming into Kings Cross you travel through Gaswork Tunnel. Just when lots of cattle (sorry passengers) want to make calls they can't. The same applies in many cities. Brum (New St), Edinburgh, Glasgow (Queen St) etc etc.

    A mega Aerial won't solve that little problem not will it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2nd Class?

      >> 3rd Class or Steerage if you ask me. (wasn't is 2nd class that got abolished in the early days of BR?)

      Other way round ... second class was re-instated in the early years of BR, by the simple expedient of renaming third-class (there must be an IT angle here somewhere?). The original second class started to be abolished in the late 1800s, starting (IIRC) with the Midland Railway when it opened its London Extension into St Pancras.

      Second class has subsequently itself been renamed as standard class (but no mention of which standard).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2nd Class?

        Is a fair point about tunnels though.

        I commuted abroad for a while and voice seemed to work fairly well there, despite the difficulties mentioned in the article. Data was pretty slow but useable for e-mail or surfing.

        I think they put cells in the tunnels in the cities and made the mobile companies share if I remember rightly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2nd Class?

          Other might point out that having trains which run on time, run faster than a sick donkey and aren't overcrowded is a higher priority than allowing the cattle to look at cat videos.

          It would also eliminate half the calls which are along the lines of "trains late I should get in at...."

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 2nd Class?

          "I think they put cells in the tunnels in the cities and made the mobile companies share if I remember rightly."

          The problem in the UK is that doing that (shared infrastructure) is explicitly illegal and would take regulation changes to sort out (Arguably this should have been done years ago)

          It's the same problem which means you end up needing to have 3 separate farms of femtocells to provide coverage in a business/enterprise environment where mobile coverage is patchy-to-nonexistant.

  2. captain veg

    plus d'info, svp

    "The technology is being used by mobile network Iliad in France."

    Pray, tell more. I quite often travel by train between Paris and Toulouse, and there is basically no coverage at all between the big towns along the way. And I'm an Iliad subscriber.

    -A.

  3. David Nash

    I was rather impressed on a recent trip to Madrid, the phones just continued working in a deep Metro tunnel. Not just in stations, voice and data just worked as if we were on the surface.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I gor a tour of the LHC tunnels in CERN a few years back, before it was switched on for the first time. There were more mobile networks showing up on my phone in the tunnels than on the surface! None would let me connect, though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      so do reader like the idea of mobile signal on the Tube?

      1. [email protected]

        RE: mobile signal on tube

        no thanks

  4. Bob H

    This is doubly twisted because National Rail has their own mobile phone spectrum for GSM-R.

    Perhaps they should coordinate with the Police and their TETRA replacement issue. Bring the two budgets together and make a national, high availability, secondary LTE infrastructure.

    1. Hyphen

      This is doubly twisted because National Rail has their own mobile phone spectrum for GSM-R.

      Yes - but us peons can't use it. I see this complaint a lot - why can't we share that bandwidth? Well, aside from the fact it's only at a 2G standard, would you really want your train driver to face the problem that they can't contact the signaller in an emergency because all the capacity is taken up with people saying they're at a standstill? Or instagramming/tumblring pictures of the person the train just hit...

      1. James 100

        "would you really want your train driver to face the problem that they can't contact the signaller in an emergency because all the capacity is taken up with people saying they're at a standstill?"

        A large part of GSM-R's design seems to revolve around prioritising traffic for exactly that reason: you don't want a set of points switching late or the brakes not coming on because the train management system decided this was a good time to dump the engine diagnostic logs back to base or download a fresh set of timetables for the overhead status displays.

        There's talk of replacing it with an extended variant of LTE ("LTE for Public Safety Applications" or something like that IIRC), combining that robust QoS with higher bandwidth than the 2G GSM-R offers. Presumably, if and when the rail network moved to that LTE-R (or whatever), they could then use the spare bandwidth for passenger services as well - perhaps an on-train picocell with LTE-R backhaul, so they could perhaps get some sort of roaming arrangement going too.

        1. Knoydart
          Megaphone

          There is a push to move rail users of GSM-R as it seems to punch a hole in one of the LTE bands, causing Europe wide problems. However the LTE for safety applications is still a wee way away it seems and doing a Europe wide replacement and roll out of kit is not going to come cheap.

          Good luck as its a thorny problem to solve.

  5. Graham Marsden
    Mushroom

    Oh what a shame...

    ... I SAID: WHAT A SHAME!

    NO, NOT TRAIN... SHAME...!!!

    HELLO???

  6. Kernel Silver badge

    Not quite as good as it sounds

    "A plan to offer fibre running down the side of the tracks, which would have given great Wi-Fi coverage, has been abandoned, "

    Having worked in a network that used just as small amount of fibre laid beside rail lines, I can assure you there is a significant downside to this otherwise great idea - if something does happen to the fibre (and it will) it can take literally days to get the necessary clearances and permissions to enter the rail corridor to carry out repairs.

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