According to conference hosts, BWCS, there are currently 34 operators around the world running or trialing WiFi services on their trains, with many more poised to join them. However, this also begs the questions why have so many operators not yet launched WiFi services?
At first glance it seems a shoe in for all train companies, argues Ross Parsons, BWCS head of Transportation Consulting, WiFi connections invariably top the list of what passengers want and where it has been introduced it has helped drive up ticket sales and fill up empty seats. Technically, it is pretty inexpensive now to introduce and the speeds of connection can be impressive.
However, the often lugubrious process of getting kit accepted by safety-conscious train operators has held back growth in this dynamic new sector. The train WiFi market does finally seem to be gaining momentum as the number of operators offering the service grows. As the evidence piles up that train-to-shore wireless connections are helping to boost passenger levels, win plaudits from their customers and allow companies to introduce cost-saving measures such as train engine performance monitoring, so others will be enticed to join them.
Train Communications Systems 2011 will be dominated by real case studies presented by train operators who have launched WiFi on-board services. It will offer a chance to hear how these go-ahead companies have overcome technical, marketing and operational issues to offer passenger WiFi and help win the battle to fill empty train seats and cut operating costs.
In addition several train operators are now beginning to develop new passenger entertainment and information services based on their high-speed wireless to train connections.
Among those presenting at Train Communications Systems 2011 will be: Amtrak, Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (Italian high-speed train operator), WestBahn (Austrian Train Company), Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Department for Transport, UK, Bay Area Rapid Transit, SJ Trains and many more.
The conference is sponsored by Icomera, Nomad Digital, the GBS Group and EURail Magazine. 21Net is sponsoring a cocktail event at the end of the first day, while NSN and CommScope are sponsoring the lunches on Day One and Day Two.