Traincomms News from BWCS

Underground Connections - Berlin U-Bahn Moves Closer On-Train WiFi

Monday 15 Jan 2024

The saga of getting WiFi onto trains on the Berlin U-Bahn turned a new page this week as Stadler delivered its first test vehicle to network operator Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). The move is particularly significant for Berlin commuters, as the new generation of yellow carriages will come fitted out with WiFi connectivity.

It was back in March 2020 that, following a legal dispute, Stadler, was officially awarded the €3 billion long-term contract to supply 1,500 metro cars to BVG. The new vehicles come with passenger information screens, more space and, importantly for frustrated commuters, ‘BVG WiFi', which, both Stadler and the train operator say, will provide good Internet connections not only in stations but also on trains.

In 2022, Stadler awarded the contract to supply data communications technology for the first 606 carriages on order from BVG, to Westermo. The entire data networks on board the new trains will support mission-critical systems including the train control and management system (TCMS) as well as systems that ensure passenger comfort and safety.

The Berlin contract includes an option for an additional 894 cars and could see the datacomms kit manufacturer provide up to 8,500 of its compact Viper Ethernet switches to manage data networks on the BVG J/JK-series underground rail carriages. Deliveries commenced at the beginning of 2022 and are set to continue until around 2027.

All 175 U-Bahn stations in the German capital currently have WiFi freely available. However, across the 156km network of tracks, 80% of which are underground, it’s a different story and the U-Bahn’s 1.5 million daily passengers have long struggled to get a mobile connection on most of the lines.

Yet, help appears to be on the way. Late last year, O2 (Telef√≥nica) announced that its expansion of network coverage “throughout the U-Bahn network” will be completed by March 2024.

Currently only parts of four lines (U1, U4, U5 and U8), have relatively good connectivity. By the end of the first quarter of this year, O2 says that it expects passengers travelling on the U2, U3, U6, U7 and U9 will have much better signals. 5G service will still only be partially available on the underground.

BWCS would like to wish all our subscribers a very Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at this year’s Traincomms Conference.

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Traincomms 2023 was sponsored by Huber+Suhner, Westermo, Boldyn Networks, Nomad Digital, GlobalReach Technology and Icomera. Xentrans, Antonics and Polomarconi were exhibitors.


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