Seeking to improve mobile phone coverage and signal strength along a 45-mile stretch of the East Coast main line between Newcastle and Edinburgh, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is working with mobile phone operator O2 to install up to 12 new masts along the route and to boost coverage from the current network of masts by enhancing existing signal levels
This will not only bring an improved service to LNER’s passengers, it will also benefit the many communities where limited or no signal currently exists in North Tyneside and Northumberland.
As the final phase of the programme, LNER and O2 plan to bring a 5G service to Newcastle Central station by the summer of 2021.
The location of the proposed new masts follows almost a year of extensive testing and planning to identify the optimum locations to provide 4G coverage and be 5G ready. LNER and O2 worked with specialist rail and telecoms infrastructure provider Railsite Telecom to identify the locations to be upgraded and build the new masts.
Railsite Telecom focuses on improving connectivity for rail passengers by developing shared mast infrastructure alongside the railway for the mobile network operators. The project will also be available for other mobile network operators to participate.
Planning permission for the first mast has recently been approved by Northumberland County Council.
LNER managing director David Horne said: “We know how vital our connections are between the great towns and cities of the LNER route.
“We also know how vital mobile connectivity is for our customers, so we’re proud to be radically improving this for those who travel on our trains and also work and live along our route.”
Brendan O’Reilly, O2 chief technology officer, added: “This is an important project for us as we seek to boost network coverage and capacity around the country.
“We’ve always looked to prioritise areas our customers need it the most and upgrading busy transport hubs, such as Newcastle station, will provide millions of customers with faster, more reliable network services.”