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Virgin Trains Wi-Fi arrives one year late

Virgin Trains has completed the rollout of Wi-Fi on its Pendolino trains operating between London and Scotland more than a year later than originally planned
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor

Virgin Trains has completed the rollout of Wi-Fi on its Pendolino trains operating between London and Scotland, more than a year later than originally planned.

When the project was announced back in September 2006, Virgin Trains set the completion date for the end of 2007.

However, the deployment date slipped after initial trials did not match up to Virgin's coverage and reliability requirements.

A Virgin Trains spokeswoman told ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com: "The project became more complicated because we wanted a tailored solution, a bespoke solution, because we want a very long-term future for this and we needed something that was ultimately a bit more sophisticated than what we originally thought."

In addition, the maintenance cycle for the trains has meant that it is only now that all 52 Pendolino trains have been able to be fitted with the tech. The service will be extended to 21 Super Voyager trains by mid-summer.

Graeme Lowdon, chief executive of Nomad Digital, the network company responsible for the rollout, said: "It's not economically possible to take trains out of service to install communication equipment on them, so you effectively piggyback into existing maintenance regimes… and in deploying a project like this you have to fit in with that programme."

Virgin Trains did not want to provide a Wi-Fi service on some trains before the entire fleet was able to support it, and so it was decided to wait until all Pendolino trains had the appropriate Wi-Fi tech fitted before officially launching the service.

Lowdon said: "A lot of these Pendolinos have been running around with this equipment on for a very long time but we had to wait until the entire fleet was installed and then launch."

First-class passengers can use the service for free, while other passengers can buy hotspot passes via their wireless device or use the service on an unlimited basis if they are T-Mobile mobile broadband customers.

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