South West Trains is upgrading 45 trains with WiFi to keep passengers connected and help them to arrive on time.
The £3.2m investment will apply to the rail company’s Class 444 Desiro trains on mainline routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth and Portsmouth, using technology provided by Siemens’s train manufacturing division.
The same connection will be used for new external cameras to help with track and conductor rail maintenance tracking so trains can run more punctually.
Arthur Pretorius, customer services director for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “Whether it’s working, catching up with the latest news or keeping in touch with friends, free WiFi on many of our Main Line trains will help our passengers to make more use of the time they spend on board our services.
“We are constantly working to improve the service we offer to our passengers and are investing millions of pounds in our stations, trains and infrastructure to provide improved journeys. This latest investment will provide significant benefits to our customers and we’re confident will make a big difference to their journey with us.”
The WiFi service launched on September 15 on routes London Waterloo via Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth to Weymouth and Portsmouth, which carry 30,000 people every weekday.
It’s being provided free of charge, supported by advertising from Amex and operated by Nomad Digital, with speeds dependent on coverage along the route.
Passengers will have to register before they can connect to the internet, and South West Trains Wi-Fi can’t be used for streaming video from iPlayer or YouTube, downloading very large files, or file sharing.
The cameras and tracking technology should be up and running in the next year, with the goal of helping South West Trains to run more services out of London Waterloo to its destinations.
Christian Roth, alliance fleet director for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “We have already been at the leading edge of rail engineering improvements over the past two years, which are helping deliver a better, safer, more reliable and more efficient railway for our passengers.
“Moving forward, this new investment in Wi-Fi technology and other enhancements will provide more productive journeys for our customers and lay the foundation for other significant improvements.”