LONDON Underground passengers will be able to get 4G internet on their phones from early 2020.
It means travellers can access the web, send text messages and even make phone calls.
It also means that Tube lines of the future may be plagued by commuters and tourists making loud phone calls during transit.
Transport for London – which manages the Tube network – said that the first trial will begin in the middle of next year.
However, not all lines will benefit: only a small section of the Jubilee Line will receive the upgrade at launch.
“The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements,” said Shashi Verma, TfL’s chief technology officer.
“But we are now well on the path to delivering mobile connectivity within our stations and tunnels.
He added: “We have begun the complex work to allow our customers to be able to get phone reception within our tunnels from March 2020, with more stations and lines coming online during the coming years.”
TfL says that the trial section will run between Westminster and Canning Town on the Jubilee Line.
However, two of the busiest stations – London Bridge and Waterloo – will be excluded from the trial.
However, TfL says that both stations will receive 4G internet later in 2020, pending approval.
And other busy stops on the Jubilee Line fall outside of the trial stretch, including shopping hubs Bond Street and Stratford.
For areas where 4G is available, the high-speed signal will be offered in ticket halls, corridors and tunnels.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is a really important step for the millions of people who use the Tube each year.
“Introducing 4G and, in the future, 5G will help Londoners and visitors keep in touch and get the latest travel information while on the go.
“London is the best place to live, bisit and work – and projects like this will help make it even better.”
London Underground – a brief history
Here's what you need to know…
- The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is London’s rapid transit system
- Its life started as the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground passenger railway
- This opened in January 1863, and has since become part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines
- The network now has 11 lines and carried 1.357billion passengers in 2017/18
- However, this only makes it the world’s 11th busiest metro system
- London’s Tube network has 270 stations and 250 miles of track
- However, despite the name ‘Underground’, just 45% of the entire system is in underground tunnels
- The vast majority of stations are north of the River Thames – just 10% sit south of the river
- The average speed of a Tube train is 21mph
- And the London Underground became the first public transport system in the world to accept contactless payments in 2014
London’s busy Tube network already has 260 WiFi-enabled stations.
Wi-Fi signal is not available in underground tunnels, however.
Importantly, the capital’s aged underground railway has lagged behind rival metro systems around the globe.
Mobile coverage on underground trains is already available in cities like Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Tokyo.
TfL estimates that the London Tube upgrade will require over 1,200 miles of cabling – with engineers expected to work night shifts to minimise disruption.
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Are you excited to see 4G on the tube? Let us know in the comments!
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