NMBS to launch wi-fi pilot project on Ostend-Eupen line
The Belgian railway will soon launch a test project to provide wi-fi in trains, though the whole network isn’t expected to be covered until 2019
First class only during peak times
Federal ministers for telecommunications (Alexander De Croo) and mobility (Jacqueline Galant) joined NMBS chief executive Jo Cornu for the inaugural run of one of the first trains equipped with wi-fi. Two trains on the route will be fitted; the wi-fi will be available in first and second class cars during off-peak hours, but only in first class during peak commuter hours.
“A data connection in the train is one way of allowing people to be more productive, or to watch a Netflix film or a YouTube video,” said NMBS commercial director Bart De Groote. “In either case, they can make good use of their time, unlike in the car.”
Depending on the results of the evaluation following the test, the system will be extended to other routes in 2017. Cornu asked De Croo to ensure that mobile operators cover the entire rail network, so that the service could finally be available on all trains by 2019.
Whether the service will remain free at that point remains to be seen. “This is a very big investment that we have to find some way of making back,” De Groote said. Some European countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy, already offer free wi-fi on all trains.
Passengers who make use of the new connection can offer their opinion and impressions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
million travellers in 2012
percent of trains on time in 2012
percent increase in female employees since 2005