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Indian Railways opens tender for 64,000 km trackside network

Infra News - Published on Wed, 20 Mar 2019

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Railway Technology reported that as Indian Railways subsidiary RailTel launches a tender for trackside to train connection services, BWCS spoke to Mr Ashutosh Vasant, director of RailTel and the man in charge of its Wi-Fi project. Mr Vasant will be one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Wi-Fi on Trains Conference. Mr Vasant told us “The tender documents are now live.”

Eschewing the now creaking trackside comms GSM-R system, which has been slowly rolled out across Europe, RailTel, has opted to follow countries like South Korea and leap straight into LTE-R.

This week the company published the tender material on its website for four phases of construction eventually covering 64,000km of track. The closing date for submissions is 20 April.

Once installed, Mr Vasant tells us, the LTE-R network will provide high-speed, on-board internet connectivity right across the vast, sprawling Indian Railways network. The trackside system will also enable on-train CCTV services and train and track condition monitoring services, as well as signalling services for train control.

According to Mr Ashutosh, a 650km trial of the LTE-R services is currently underway along four separate stretches of track, each around 150km long. Based on the feedback from these trials, the company plans to float tenders for the entire network. Phase 1 will cover the ‘Golden Triangle’, which accounts for 75% to 80% of India Railways high-use and high revenue tracks, some 10,000km.

Previously RalTel and IR trialled satellite-delivered Wi-Fi services on Express trains between Delhi and Kolkata.

However, according to Mr Vasant, these ran into cost and bandwidth issues, which forced RailTel to look elsewhere. The new LTE-R system will now form the bedrock of its network-wide on-board Wi-Fi services.

Meanwhile, the company is pressing ahead with its hugely ambitious station Wi-Fi project, which it launched with technical partners Google and the Department of Telecoms in 2014. Since then, RailTel has developed one of the world’s largest public Wi-Fi networks with some 26 million users logging-in per month, downloading 9,431TB of aggregated data consumption.

Initially, the project covered 98 stations but has since been rolled out to a further 711. In addition, 809 rural stations are being covered. By the end of this month, there will be some 1,500 stations offering high-speed free Wi-Fi to travellers. Eventuall,y the project will cover 4,200 stations.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Wed, 20 Mar 2019
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