Government issues call for 5G trans-Pennine rail trial

Prospective suppliers are being encouraged to get in touch with the government as preparations accelerate for a new 5G project on the trans-Pennine rail line between Leeds and Manchester.

A ‘Call for Expressions of Interest‘ has been issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as ministers attempt to explore how 5G based mobile broadband and fibre optic technology can aid passengers on the route and transform the wider transport sector. It’s hoped 5G connectivity will contribute to the government’s ambition of main line rail routes having uninterrupted mobile coverage and guaranteed Wi-Fi.

The trans-Pennine Initiative (TPI), part of the government’s Northern Powerhouse plans, aims to test ways of providing high quality passenger connectivity to trains using trackside infrastructure, including addressing issues related to access, processes and costs.

Margot James, UK minister for digital, said: “The importance of fast, reliable and uninterrupted connectivity on our rail network is only going to increase. Projects like the Trans Pennine Initiative will be instrumental in delivering this for passengers and are all part of our commitment to make the UK a world leader in 5G.”

Companies selected to take part in the trial will be given the opportunity to:

  • Deploy their trial radio equipment on the TPI pilot route without the need to invest in trackside infrastructure
  • Benefit from financial support for installation activities on the TPI pilot route
  • Demonstrate the viability of their products in a live environment with a wide demographic of passengers, including business commuters, day trippers and long distance travellers. This will help allowing for testing of capacity, coverage and security.
  • Make use of a new 5G facility at Melton Mowbray where technologies can be tested.

The TPI which was first announced last year, is a joint effort between the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) and 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) Programmes, with Network Rail (NR) as our delivery partner. 5G is the next generation of mobile connections and the government is supporting the development of the technology through its modern Industrial Strategy.

Responses to the call for information should be sent to The closing date for comments to be submitted is noon 14 September 2018.

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