Queensland Rail is rolling-out free Wifi on its trains. So far, up to two-thirds of its commuter trains have been kitted out with the new technology, following positive feedback from passengers about being able to access emails or browse the internet while travelling has seen an increase in demand for its services.
Last month saw Queensland Rail reach the milestone of one million user logins since last year. On average, currently around 58,000 passengers a week are using the service for roughly half an hour each trip. Feedback, mostly via Twitter, has been overwhelmingly positive. The top three most popular websites accessed on Queensland trains are Apple, Google and Queensland Rail – the latter, quite usefully, for up-to-the-minute information on train departure and arrival times or connections.
For exploring additional revenue streams, Queensland Rail is currently trialing advertising (like popups on screens) to subsidize the free internet service. It’s also put a 20 megabyte cap on passenger usage to ensure that there’s a consistent and reliable service for everyone. Only around 10% of passengers reach their data limit.
Typical travel times on the Queensland rail network range from just over an hour to and from Brisbane on its commuter services; to fifteen hours on regional trains that link Brisbane to Cairns. There are 170,000 passenger movements a day along the Gold Coast to Brisbane line.
The improved train connectivity has led to better security on its trains, something previously of major concern to some passengers and staff. For instance, if a passenger pushes an emergency alarm in a train carriage, a video link gives instant access to the control room so that security can be alerted and ready to deal with any incident quickly and efficiently. The driver can also see, record and download high quality images and CCTV videos of an offender.
A spokesperson for Queensland Rail said that using one mobile phone network alone is not effective enough: particularly in some parts of the country where poor coverage means loss of communication. So the company is doing its utmost to ensure more reliability, by working across multiple networks.
“Nomad’s technology utilizes the three main mobile phone carrier networks which guarantees a higher level of network coverage and better bandwidth availability. The Nomad Digital wireless system is also a lot cheaper and more effective”, he said.
With a large boost in tourism expected on the Gold Coast with the Commonwealth Games this year, Queensland Rail is on track for providing heightened service to even more people as it extends its Wifi service on trains; and, no doubt, will see continued praise on Twitter as it does so.