GUWAHATI, March 3 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is working on a plan to provide free Wi-Fi broadband services to passengers travelling onboard all the premium trains operated by it by June this year.
The zonal railway is also looking to expand the Wi-Fi services to more stations in the region.
“NFR is mandated to provide onboard Wi-Fi in all premium trains like the Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Humsafars. Already, the Agartala-New Delhi Rajdhani has been provided with this service where passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones can access 100 hours of entertainment content. NFR plans to provide this service in all the premium trains operated by it by June 2019,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer of NFR, told The Assam Tribune.
He said that so far 45 stations have been provided with Wi-Fi facilities in the NFR. Wi-Fi service in the zone was first introduced at the Guwahati Railway station in May 2016.
“RailTel will be executing the work for provision of Wi-Fi for the remaining stations. NFR is coordinating with RailTel for this. The details are being worked out,” Sharma said.
RailTel Corporation, a Mini Ratna public sector undertaking, is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country owning a pan-India optic fibre network on exclusive Right of Way (ROW) along railway tracks.
Sharma said that the Wi-Fi facility provided at the railway stations is free of cost and users do not need to pay for using the service.
Asked about the amount of investments that NFR plans to make for expanding the Wi-Fi services, he said, “The Ministry of Railways has decided to allot the Wi-Fi work at all remaining stations at no cost to the Railways, which is to be executed by RailTel from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund. So, there is no other investment to be made by the NFR for the project.”
The Wi-Fi system has gained popularity among railway passengers and it has benefits for both commuters as well as the Railways, Sharma said.
“Passengers can connect to free Wi-Fi at stations and check mail, chat online with friends, play online games, place orders for food online, watch videos, download apps and games, among other things, without consuming their own mobile data. Wi-Fi has become digital hotspots at stations offering services like digital banking, Aadhaar generation, issue of government certificates, payment of bills for online ticketing, for checking train arrival and departure position and PNR status, filing online complaints and checking online time table,” he said.
Provision of Wi-Fi at around 400 A1 and A category stations across the country was a Budget announcement made in the Railway Budget 2014-15.