SPAIN: Prior to its launch on high speed services between Madrid and Sevilla on December 5, national operator RENFE is testing from November 4 a beta version of PlayRenfe, its new on-train wi-fi platform which combines satellite and 4G. As well as internet connectivity, passengers will be able to enjoy live TV on the move in what RENFE says is a world-first for the railway industry.

Having awarded a contract to Telefónica in November 2015, RENFE is now working with the telecommunications company and rolling stock suppliers Alstom, Siemens and Talgo to equip all four classes of high speed trainset. The aim is to roll out PlayRenfe over the rest of the high speed network during 2017, when the national operator will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the opening of Spain’s first high speed line, between Madrid and Sevilla, on April 14 1992.

As well as antennae for 4G-LTE and satellite, trains are being equipped with routers, servers, access points and two internal antennae per car. Infrastructure work to equip 1 600 km of high speed lines includes providing coverage in 75 tunnels.

Accessing PlayRenfe by means of an app for smartphones and tablets or on their laptops via the dedicated website, passengers will be able to enjoy a range of personalised content including films and e-books, as well as information on products and services in what RENFE sees as a new ‘market place’ in which to meet its customers. Access to the new service will be free for members of RENFE’s loyalty programme and passengers in first class, otherwise costing €2 for a basic package on one device or €4 for the premium package on three devices offering faster speeds and live TV.

‘PlayRenfe is more than wi-fi’, said Acting Development Minister Rafael Catalá on November 3. As part of RENFE’s digital transformation strategy, it would offer ‘exclusive content for every type of passenger and new services’, he added.