WIRELESS internet equipment developed by Qinetiq is being tested on a Virgin Trains Pendolino trainset. The Connected Carriage system provides a moving train with national coverage at up to 49 MB/sec by combining multiple wide-area networking methods, including bi-directional satellite links and pre-WiMAX proprietary technology.
Wi-fi hotspots are provided throughout each carriage, supported by an onboard LAN which can be used for communications, video surveillance and train monitoring purposes. An on-train server caches web content and outbound e-mails, and is capable of storing rich media such as audio channels and music clips for immediate access by passengers. Several external antennas have been installed on the train, and a smart router decides which combination of communication links to use at any given moment.
Virgin Trains has called tenders for the supply of wireless internet services on its 131 trainsets. 'Wireless internet access plays a key part in our vision for the future of rail travel', said Commercial Director Graham Leech.