Avanti West Coast has announced it is investing £45 million in a deal with BT to upgrade mobile and WI-FI infrastructure for passengers using the West Coast Main Line.
The initiative will see BT boosting 4G coverage, adding network capacity to almost 200 cell masts run by its mobile arm, EE. The work is planned to be finished by June 2023.
It is thought this work, currently underway, will address any weak signal issues and improve connectivity whilst using the trains.
While BT, which also owns EE and Plusnet, will provide the infrastructure and connectivity to enable the onboard Wi-Fi, upgrades to the Wi-Fi system will be made by Avanti West Coast, as part of its investment. This will enable a reliable connection for customers accessing the internet for free on their device.
The work will enhance coverage in areas with existing 4G, as well as introduce new 4G coverage. Areas that will benefit include Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and Staffordshire as well as regions of Lancashire, Cumbria, and Edinburgh.
Chris Heaton-Harris, rail minister, said: “Avanti West Coast’s upgrade work, supported by the Department for Transport, is a win for everyone who uses, or lives close to the West Coast Main Line.
“Investing in better connectivity helps transform rail travel, improving journeys for passengers by building a black-spot free network, with the added benefit of supporting local communities.”
Managing director at Avanti West Coast, Phil Whittingham, said: “This is a really exciting partnership with BT. The benefits of working with the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider on this project will enhance reliability of our onboard Wi-Fi and give our customers faster speeds and extended coverage on our route.
“It’s a significant step towards better digital connectivity on the West Coast Main Line, which has never been more important. These improvements will enable our customers to stay connected during their journey and be more productive onboard our trains, while boosting mobile coverage for communities local to our route.”