With 1,400 departures daily, SJ carries over 70,000 passengers each day across Sweden. SJ has always focused on service quality, with trains equipped with multi-channel radio entertainment, 21-seater cinema and bistro for hot meals. During 2005 as part of a strategy to improve further the customer experience SJ committed to provisioning Internet access on board its commuter X40 and newly-refurbished high speed X2000 train fleets.
By introducing the Wi-Fi service on its trains SJ’s overall goal is to increase passenger volume and the frequency of their journeys, specifically targeting business travellers on SJ’s key routes. In the longer term SJ also wants to provide rich media content to its leisure passengers, while leveraging the onboard wireless network for new applications to improve operational efficiency.
The SJ train fleet travels throughout Sweden, with intercity routes that penetrate deep into the rural countryside and mountainous regions. While cellular data network coverage is good in urban and suburban areas, it becomes challenging to provide an Internet connection to a train where cellular coverage is sparse or non-existent. It is therefore necessary to use different communication technologies to the train as its moves along its journey, and for the system to make intelligent decisions to switch seamlessly between networks, thus maintaining a constant connection at the best possible speeds. In this way the passenger has an optimal Internet experience while mission-critical systems such as train crew communications, GPS positioning, on-board systems monitoring and CCTV achieve maximum uptime.
Icomera was awarded the €11m contract on the basis that it could fulfill all of SJ’s requirements; to supply a turn-key solution, deliver a high quality of service and excellent user experience, ensure easy integration with SJ’s rolling stock and IT infrastructure, offer the flexibility to develop the offering with locally-stored rich media content, and finally to provide compatibility with on-train workforce applications.
Icomera built the solution around the Moovbox M800 Mobile Broadband Gateway, a sophisticated multi-radio cellular router and Wi-Fi controller designed specifically for complex rail installations. The Moovbox M800 supports up to eight concurrent 3G/ HSPA cellular data connections, a DVB-S satellite link, and trackside Wi-Fi to deliver optimum service availability and performance across the SJ train routes. The Moovbox M800 also features built-in GPS which combined with backend services have taken SJ’s fleet management to a new level with remote real-time train position mapping and monitoring.
The Result & Next Steps
SJ has seen a 4% increase in the number of First Class passengers on their high speed trains as a result of the Icomera solution. The uptake in First Class, where the Internet service is included in the fare, is almost 25%. According to recent customer surveys 25% of the Internet users in First Class said they had chosen to travel on SJ trains because of the ability to work while travelling. Looking to the future SJ continues to build out its deployment of passenger Wi-Fi Internet access on the X2000 and X40 train fleets, and is working on a number of initiatives to leverage the high speed connections for other applications.