Merseyrail’s new trains to feature free wi-fi

PASSENGERS on new trains arriving on the Merseyrail network in 2020 will be able to enjoy free internet access across the network – including in tunnels and underground stations such as Liverpool Central, Moorfields and Hamilton Square.

Thanks to wireless connectivity delivered by global electronics company Panasonic, the trains will also be served by high-quality CCTV and voice links between the trains and Merseyrail’s control centre. The first time it has been rolled out in the UK, this technology will help to ensure passenger safety across the network.

The system will also provide the control centre with data on the exact number of passengers on each train. This information will ensure that services can be better managed and the network can operate at optimum capacity – important at peak travel times or during the major sporting or cultural events which the Liverpool City Region regularly hosts.

The announcement of the new wireless technology follows the earlier unveiling of some key features of the new trains, including innovative sliding step technology which will make the Merseyrail network easily accessible to all users as well as plug and USB sockets and bike racks. The trains are manufactured by Swiss company Stadler and are planned to be in service from 2020.

A replica of one of the new Merseyrail carriages, with working doors and sliding step, is currently on public display at Pacific Road, Birkenhead until 14 October and will be at Liverpool Lime Street Station from 5-18 November, with staff on hand to advise visitors of the new features on-board.

Panasonic were chosen to deliver connectivity on the new trains via a competitive tendering process which saw them selected on the basis of the quality of their proposal and the value-for-money it represents for the Liverpool City Region.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “We are investing nearly half a billion pounds in a new, publicly-owned fleet for the Merseyrail network, which will increase capacity, reduce travel times and provide a better experience for the travelling public.  Our new fleet will be one of the best connected in the world, which not only means that people can use their smart phones or tablets via wifi, it also means a safer and more responsive network.”

Cllr Liam Robinson, transport portfolio holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Panasonic, industry-leaders in connected public transport technology, as part of what we hope will be a long-term partnership. The pioneering technology will help to enhance the safety and security of Merseyrail users. Wireless links between trains and our control centre will also allow us to manage capacity of the network – essential as the Liverpool City Region economy grows and demand increases.”

Simon Olorenshaw, Head of New Fleet Transition, Merseyrail, said: “Having this technology on our new trains will allow Merseyrail to ensure that our customers can stay connected throughout their whole journey whilst also having the added assurance that they will always be able to speak directly to someone should the need arise. We will also be able to manage our service effectively, particularly at times of peak usage, thus enhancing the levels of service we provide to the City Region.”

Panasonic Europe Chairman and CEO Laurent Abadie said: “We are committed to being a strategic partner for companies seeking end to end business solutions in rail. Alongside our subsidiary AD Comms, we have been working closely with Merseytravel to bring about what will be a huge technological leap forward for passengers, drivers and support staff alike.”

Fadi Khairallah, project manager for Stadler Rail, said: “Stadler stands for precision, reliability and first-class customer service. The new trains for the Liverpool City Region are being tailormade for the network and will rely on highly sophisticated technology. We are delighted that Merseytravel has chosen to invest in wireless connectivity, which will both benefit passengers and complement other state-of-the-art digital features on the train.”