South Western Railway (SWR) has now made Wi-Fi available at all 187 stations on its network – a significant improvement compared to a mere five stations with connectivity when FirstGroup and MTR took over the South Western franchise in 2017.
The upgrade comes as part of a three-year SWR partnership with BT, which has already delivered the upgrade of 104 4G EE cell masts on SWR’s network and will soon see 31 new masts built. These will be critical to the improvement of SWR’s onboard Wi-Fi, something SWR and BT have made significant headway on, with onboard connectivity speeds increasing by approximately 23 per cent since January 2019 across the 104 sites.
BT is currently a year-and-a-half into the improvement programme, with current developments focused on ‘not spots’ – areas identified with limited or no mobile coverage.
SWR managing director Mark Hopwood commented on the developments: “People expect to be able to connect and access information at the touch of a button, and most industries are having to respond to this demand and update their service accordingly.
“Our passengers are no exception to this rule, and we want to provide them with access to a fast and reliable connection when travelling with us.
“Working in partnership with BT we have significantly boosted the digital connectivity available on our trains and at our stations, and the plans to build new masts demonstrates our ambition to go even further.”
Sarah Walker, BT Corporate and Public Sector Director and Enterprise Sponsor for UK Rail Strategy said: “As part of our continued partnerships supporting UK train operating companies improve the digital passenger experience, we’re pleased to be delivering this network upgrade for SWR.
“Whether passengers need Wi-Fi for work or leisure purposes while travelling, this enhancement to the digital infrastructure on board trains and in stations will ensure people can stay connected.”