Traincomms News from BWCS

Northern Completes t’Digital Upgrade …

Tuesday 11 Apr 2023

Northern has completed a three-year project to improve on-board technology on its trains. The operator’s ‘digital train’ programme was a multi-million pound investment scheme to bring the older trains in its fleet up to date and provide them with the same digital facilities as the 101 new trains introduced into service two years ago.

In total, Northern has refitted 233 trains with WiFi, HD CCTV cameras, live passenger information screens, passenger counting and 17,200 USB charging sockets.

The Northern franchise comprises one of the two main rail networks serving the north of England. It provides inter-urban, commuter and local services across the whole of Northern England while the TransPennine Express (TPE) primarily provides inter-urban services between the major cities. Several other Rail networks and open access operators also provide services which enter or cross the region.

Since 2016 the former Northern Franchise had been operated by Arriva Rail North Limited which is part of the Arriva group, In January 2020 the UK Government announced that the Northern rail franchise will be nationalised. The Northern franchise was set to run until March 2025.

Jack Commandeur, engineering director at Northern, said: “We’re thrilled to see the final ‘digital train’ come off the production line. This has been an epic three-year project delivered against a backdrop of Covid-19 lockdowns and the team deserves huge credit for keeping at it and getting us to this point.


He went on to thank the various partners who had helped make the upgrades possible, these include: ADComms, Belvoir Rail, Icomera, Yellow Rail, Ricardo, Huber & Suhner, Porterbrook, Angel, and Eversholt.

Each train required 1,100 hours of work with an average turnaround of five days per unit.

William Edwards, digital trains project manager at Northern, added: “Digital trains deliver truly ground-breaking passenger benefits and, as one of the largest upgrades in the rail industry, the team should be immensely proud for what they have achieved, well done everyone.”

The growing market for passenger WiFi and on-board entertainment and trackside wireless systems will be the main subjects of BWCS’ WiFi on Trains Conference this year on the 14th and 15th of November.  

It will feature presentations from train operators across Europe, the UK and the rest of the world – including the US, Turkey, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

For information on the full programme, please contact

The 2023 Conference is sponsored by Huber+Suhner, GlobalReach Technology, Westermo and Icomera.

Xentrans, Antonics and PoloMarconi are exhibiting sponsors.

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