Northern Rail Launches "Entertraining" Passenger Wi-Fi Service

February 3rd 2015 – Northern Rail has launched its new free Wi-Fi service for commuters travelling between Leeds and Bradford. Installed in the latter months of 2014, it will serve the 1.1 million passengers travelling in and out of Leeds each month. The Wi-Fi will be available on 24 of Northern Rail’s class C333, C322 and C321 electric trains, which run on routes between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square.

A part of the SuperConnected Cities programme, this project is Northern’s first foray into onboard Wi-Fi. The initiative was funded by a £750,000 investment from Broadband UK, a branch of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with support from Leeds City Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Working with solution partners Optix and Spoken Ink, Icomera successfully delivered a system comprising of Wi-Fi, passenger information and specially-chosen media, stored locally on Icomera’s onboard hardware. A huge range of high-quality media content is available, including top Sky NOW TV shows, bestselling audiobooks from Audible, games, music, and local and national news all ready to stream to passengers’ devices for free. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has even produced a “Wildlife Through Your Window” radio series, reporting on the nature reserves along the line.

Since they are not streaming large media files over the Internet, passengers using locally stored media significantly reduces the load on the connection for others wishing to work or use social media. Moreover, stored media can start to reduce Northern Rail’s potential mobile data costs. With these reduced data costs, the solution becomes even more affordable.

Rob Warnes, Planning and Programmes Director at Northern Rail said he was excited by the “phenomenal customer feedback”. An early passenger survey has already shown promising results. Compiled by Spoken Ink, it illustrates that 87% of those surveyed said that the Wi-Fi met or exceeded their expectations; for the entertrainment, it was 96%. A look at the 3.5k tweets sent in the first working week of January to @northernrailorg, Northern Rail’s Twitter account, shows that the new Wi-Fi has prompted a great deal of interest, as well as positive feedback.

Dave Palmer, Managing Director of Icomera UK, commented, “With this solution, Northern Rail are giving their passengers a much-needed Wi-Fi service, whilst adding even more value with their entertrainment system. I’m very pleased to see them making the most of growing technology that will benefit both them and their passengers”.

About Optix Solutions Limited
Optix are a Hong Kong-based media solutions company. They offer enhanced public transport experiences through the provision of media content directly to passengers’ personal smart devices.

About Spoken Ink
Spoken Ink matches content and advertising space to maximise the uptake of new customers. Based in London, they specialise in high-dwell, captive audiences, such as those on public transport or in hospitals.