Making sure Crossrail’s plans for passenger Wi-Fi are on the right track

Advising on Wi-Fi network solutions as part of Europe’s largest ever construction project

Crossrail will deliver the new Elizabeth line spanning central London in order to cut journey times and expand rail capacity in the capital by 10% – the biggest increase since the Second World War. The stakes are high for this GBP14.8 billion initiative, and at the end of a nine-year build, Crossrail needs to be sure that the travelling public will be happy with the service. A crucial part of that experience is on-board Wi-Fi supporting commuter and visitor services.

The challenge is to deliver free passenger Wi-Fi cost effectively, both in the 42km of new tunnels under London and above ground. In addition, the programme has to work with space constraints on vehicles, the desire to minimise equipment in tunnels, and the need to share national rail tracks with several other train operating companies. Crossrail, part of Transport for London, asked Mason Advisory to assess the options for delivering a first-class service to travellers.

We worked closely with the organisation to understand its vision for passenger services, before helping to establish detailed requirements for Wi-Fi. Based on these requirements, our team was able to analyse the available solutions. Drawing on our experience of advising transport operators – including working extensively with Transport for London over the last ten years – we modelled passenger Wi-Fi consumption to identify a service offering that would deliver connectivity without driving up costs.

Our consultants used their knowledge of in-tunnel coverage and wireless deployment to review available data. Our unique expertise in this area ensured that Crossrail received a comprehensive analysis of the situation, combining evidence with experience.

We presented a Wi-Fi solution that leveraged the high-capacity 4G cellular coverage planned for all Crossrail tunnel sections, while also using the growing above-ground 4G network capacity along the route. Our analysis identified the critical IT infrastructure required to maintain effective data coverage, while also including features to prevent uncapped data transfer costs for Crossrail.

“Before Mason Advisory undertook this study it was unclear what had to be done to ensure Wi-Fi was available to passengers and staff upon opening of Crossrail (now the Elizabeth Line). After the study was completed it allowed rapid agreement to be reached with the joint sponsors (DfT and TfL) so that Wi-Fi is now part of the scope of the railway.”

Simon Young, Operations Project Interface Manager, Crossrail

Key Facts

London’s ground-breaking Crossrail network is expected to accommodate 200 million passengers per year

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IT Strategy & Transformation
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Designed To:
  • Capture requirements and review the options for a passenger Wi-Fi service across London
  • Model passenger consumption of Wi-Fi services to inform the strategy
  • Outline a cost-effective Wi-Fi solution that made best use of existing and planned infrastructure
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Bridie Douglas

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