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Commuters on Sydney’s main City Circle line will now be able to use their phones and access internet inside train tunnels after the NSW government, in partnership with carriers Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, completed the installation of more than 10 kilometres of cabling.
This is the second phase of a major network infrastructure upgrade. As of mid-2012, passengers have been able to use their mobile devices on the North Shore and Western Line.
“Optus first approached the previously named State Rail Authority in 1996 seeking to install network infrastructure to provide mobile phone coverage in the Sydney CBD underground rail network. But Labor failed to do anything about it,” said then-Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.
“When I announced the recent Fixing the Trains reform, I said I was determined to improve the journey for customers using our network,” she added. “It is ridiculous it has taken this long. We have listened to the feedback, and this is another win for customers who have for so many years been frustrated with the lack of coverage in tunnels.”
The new service is now undergoing live testing and will be switched on as early as next week, benefiting more than 400,000 commuters, Berejiklian said.
“The lack of coverage in our CBD tunnels has been an ongoing concern for customers over many years and quite frankly an embarrassment for our city,” she said.
The rollout will continue on the Eastern Suburbs Line, with work underway to install 18 kilometres of cable between Erskineville and Bondi Junction.
Telstra indicated in a statement that Eastern Suburbs line works were expected to be completed in early 2014. It also said it offered both 3G and 4G network coverage in the City Circle tunnels.
A Vodafone Australia spokesperson told iTnews that its network is “now live on all six segments of the Sydney CBD City Circle rail tunnels for 3G technologies (U2100 & U850).”