Internet for all trains and stations coming soon

Millions set aside in agreement between government and transport and telecom companies

Frustration may soon subside for people who rely on trains being a mobile office or study hall while commuting.

Rail Net Denmark, DSB, Arriva and the country’s major telecom operators have set themselves the common goal of ensuring stable internet and mobile connections in all trains and train stations within the next two to three years, the Transport Ministry said.

“This is in strong demand,” Magnus Heunicke, the transport minister, told Politiken. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a train journey and met people who haven’t brought this up to me. It would really make a difference in their everyday lives.”

The joint improvement will be aided by 100 million kroner set aside by the government from a train fund called Togfonden, which was set up in January 2014 with 28.5 billion kroner available in funds.

Inadequate internet
A new joint analysis made by Rail Net Denmark, DSB and the Danish Business Authority shows that “internet penetration is inadequate”, specifying that there are gaps in coverage, the signal has difficulty breaking though the train’s materials and that it has not been profitable for telecom providers to improve coverage along train tracks or on trains.

Jakob Willer, the director of Teleindustrien, says that the challenges of having good mobile and internet connections in trains is that modern trains are made of steel and the windows have metal film in them to block out light.

The metal construction coupled with the fact that there aren’t enough signal amplifiers along train lines, among other factors, create these radio dead areas.

Willer suggests that a quick first-step solution would be to install signal amplifiers, or repeaters, to give a “huge boost” in user experience for connectivity.

Further negotiations and plans will have to be agreed upon for the various changes needed to ensure stable coverage throughout all trains and stations, but Heunicke is confident of the process due to the fact that they have set themselves a deadline, calling the agreement “a big step forward”.

“Good internet is a prerequisite for trains so that they can be used as a workplace,” he told Politiken. “But I, like other train passengers, am impatient. We need it to work as soon as possible.”