K. H. Muniyappa, the Minister of State for Railways, has informed the Parliament of India, that they are planning to provide Internet facility in three rakes (group of coaches or wagons) of Howrah Rajdhani Express on a pilot basis.
Elaborating on this service, the minister stated that this facility will work on a satellite based system and the connection will be shared across railway coaches through Wi-Fi. The service is expected to be rolled out by September 25, 2012 and is estimated to cost Rs 6.30 crore for the Railway department.
This announcement follows a similar development earlier this month where TELiBrahma had collaborated with RailTel Corporation Of India to launch BluFi in the Bangalore railway station. For the uninitiated, BluFi is a distributed form of WiFi which allows TeliBrahma to make bluetooth based services available across the station.
Through this service, Telibrahma will be providing railway Information, videos, downloadable games, and wallpapers via Bluetooth. In addition to this service, according to a note from TeliBrahma, RailTel has also provided free WiFi connectivity in the Bangalore railway station under their RailWire Retail Broadband initiative through which users can request Internet access by sending an SMS, following which the password is sent to them via SMS.
However, it must be noted that we’ve been hearing about the same pilot project for almost five years now. Back in 2006, Railtel had stated that it plans to offer WiFi services in Bangalore and Jaipur railway stations.
Indian railways had also undertaken similar pilots with other firms like Techno Sat Comm which had rolled out its WiFi services on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express and Zylog Systems India which had rolled out a wireless broadband service called Wi5 on the Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express. However, we have not found any updates regarding these projects since then.
Earlier in the week, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT arm of Indian Railways, had partnered with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to develop a GPS-based device for trains which will provide real-time train tracking with an accuracy of 10 metres and latency of 2 mins and integration to Google Maps, allowing passengers to view their current location on Google Maps in real time.