Fixing mobile blackspots on V/Line


MOBILE phone blackspots along the state’s five busiest regional rail corridors, including Melbourne to Geelong, are to be fixed by the state government partnering with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in an Australian first project.

The $18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project will significantly improve mobile coverage and connectivity for commuters along the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Seymour rail lines – which see more than 15.5 million passenger trips annually.

Having three mobile carriers work together on this project is a major win for commuters – this means that customers on all three networks will see improved mobile coverage rather than just one carrier’s customer base.

As part of the solution Victoria will be the first state in Australia to implement in-train technology used to boost the signal from mobile towers outside the rail carriage to devices used inside.

Work has already begun to pilot the installation of mobile reception repeaters in VLocity trains, which is designed to boost in-train coverage from less than 50 per cent to almost full network coverage. If successful, the repeaters will be rolled out on the entire VLocity fleet in 2018.

In-train technology is used in more than 30 rail networks across Europe including Germany, Italy and Switzerland to boost the mobile signal from towers inside train carriages.

Passengers will begin to experience improved mobile coverage from the end of this year, with the construction of up to 35 new mobile towers commencing after the pilot process and set to be completed in 2018.

The Regional Rail Connectivity Project is expected to boost productivity for regional business commuters, delivering an estimated $20 million per annum to the Victorian economy.

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis said the project was a massive win for commuters on the state's five busiest regional rail corridors.

Commuters spend up to 20 hours per week on regional trains and need to keep connected so they can use their travel time productively.

Source: Based on a state government media release