Avanti West Coast is to invest £45m to upgrade mobile and Wi-Fi infrastructure on its trains after signing a deal with BT.
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.
Phil Whittingham, managing director at Avanti West Coast, said: “This is a really exciting partnership with BT. The benefits of working with the UK’s leading 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.
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“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.”
The news comes after images and details were recently revealed of how Avanti West Coast’s new trains will look as the operator begins its £117m upgrade of the famous Pendolino fleet.
Sarah Walker, BT corporate and public sector director and enterprise sponsor for UK Rail Strategy, added: “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.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “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.”