Almost a quarter of V/Line’s Vlocity train fleet have now been fitted with signal boosters, as part of the Victorian government’s program to improve mobile phone coverage on regional passenger services.
The $18 million project will eventually see the in-train mobile signal repeaters installed on the entire Vlocity fleet and 35 new mobile towers constructed along the Traralgon, Geelong, Bendigo, Seymour and Ballarat lines by the end of 2018.
“Better mobile coverage on these rail lines is part of our effort to connect regional Victoria and remove the digital divide between those living in Melbourne and those living in our regions,” state regional development minister Jaala Pulford said.
The program is being delivered in partnership with the providers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
The in-train signal boosters improve the signal received by devices inside the train from outside mobile towers. Last year’s pilot program reportedly demonstrated the technology’s capacity to markedly improve mobile coverage from less than 50 per cent to almost full coverage.
While these mobile signal repeaters are already a feature of 30 European rail lines, Victoria’s will be the first to receive upgrades of this kind in Australia.
The Victorian government hopes that the project, once completed, will provide a boost to productivity by allowing passengers to get more work done while travelling on trains, and estimates that a further $20 million could be delivered to the Victorian economy every year.
“We’re getting on with the job of delivering the mobile coverage that our regional rail passengers deserve,” state innovation and digital economy minister Stephen Dalidakis said.
“Whether passengers want to do business, browse social media or call their loved ones to tell them they’re on the way home, this project will ensure regional passengers are connected.”