Indian Railways has launched a pilot project to install a free wi-fi service in passenger trains in the country to help travellers use their travel time more effectively.
Under the pilot, free internet access through wi-fi is offered on one national train in India, the Howrah Rajdhani Express, which runs from New Delhi to the state of West Bengal in east India. The free wi-fi facility will be offered on trains running both to and from New Delhi.
Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of Railways, said that introducing internet access in moving trains was a technological challenge, given the changing terrain and weather conditions while traveling.
After successful trials run on a train operating out of Mumbai, the Indian Railways is implementing a satellite communication link using antennae placed in the power cars. The rest of the train will be linked through wi-fi radios outside each coach.
The project cost the Railways INR 63 million (US$1.15 million). However, while the service is currently provides for free, Bansal stated that passengers might have to pay a nominal fee for internet access in the future.
Passengers can access the wifi by entering their 10-digit unique Passenger Name Record (PNR) number, ID number, and cell phone number. Login details will be SMSed to them once the PNR has been validated, and will remain active for the duration of the journey.
The provision of wi-fi in trains was included in the 2013 Railway Budget introduced in February. The service will later be extended to three lines of express trains, with 50 trains expected to be connected this year.
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