Long, boring and tedious train journey is now over as the Indian Railways Authority has decided to give their passengers some relief by introducing free Wi-Fi service on running passenger trains; inaugurated by the honorable Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on 2nd of April. This facility is currently available on the New Delhi – Howrah Rajdhani Express (train number 12301/12302) and later by this financial year, this facility will be provided in 50 other passenger trains across the country. To attract more passengers to their premium class super-fast passenger express trains, the Indian Railways Minister had announced in his last budget speech the pilot project of US$1.1 million to adhere the latest Wi-Fi technology which will offer better service to its passengers.
This dream project of providing free internet access via Wi-Fi is now available only on New Delhi – Howrah Rajdhani Express and shortly will be introduced on other Rajdhani Express / Duronto / Shatabdi Express passenger trains. This facility has been provided to the passenger through hybrid satellite communication with 2G / 3G & Wi-Fi connectivity. The satellite antenna resides in the power rake coach, will communicate with each coach having powerful Wi-Fi radios outside which will be distributed further inside of each coach through indoor access point. The on-board satellite antenna will be linked to the satellite to achieve internet on the running train and in the case of any satellite communication error, the on-board multi–access router will be switched automatically to 2G / 3G connectivity option for retaining the service.
Passengers on-board availing the service will be connected to the internet throughout their journey and can access all the internet services such as web browsing, email, play games, chat and watch videos online on YouTube. But, accessing any illegal or porn websites have been automatically restricted by default and this service is provided to the Indian Railways by Techno Sat Comm (India) Limited and according to their tech specs, they are earmarking initially 4 Mbps of download bandwidth and 512 Kbps of upload bandwidth which the company is speculating can serve 120 passengers at a time without any issue. Nevertheless, any individual users will get much lower connectivity speed as this allocated bandwidth will be shared by all the on-board passengers. The Techno Sat officials has conveyed that if any glitches arise regarding the bandwidth issue then the first priority will be given to the passengers using email or online banking applications and rest will be considered later.
For security purpose, the Railways Authority will follow the guidelines of DOT for providing public Wi-Fi networks to its passenger; a detail log file will be maintained. The passengers willing to avail this facility have to provide any Government photo ID proof (electoral card, PAN card, Aadhar card, Driving license, Passport, etc), PNR number and lastly mobile number to get unique and confidential password for the Wi-Fi network by instant SMS on the mobile.
Indian Railways has also planned to introduce interactive multimedia entertainment with Internet Television further to enhance this service in the near future. The Railways Authority is also keen to cover up the losses they are suffering these days by attracting more business class people to its premium Express passenger trains by offering the latest technology on the running trains.