Trains fitted with boosters

By Benalla Ensign

Victoria’s busiest regional rail lines will start to experience better mobile coverage, however, Benalla’s train passengers will not at this stage.

The Victorian Government announced the upgrades, which are part of the Regional Rail Connectivity Project (RRCP), last week.

About a quarter of V/Line’s Vlocity trains are now fitted with mobile signal boosters, with more trains set to roll out each week until the entire Vlocity fleet is connected by the end of this year.

The state government is working with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus to deliver the $18 million RRCP, which also includes the construction of 35 new mobile towers that will combine with the boosters to increase mobile coverage for passengers along the Traralgon, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Seymour lines.

Passengers who catch a train fitted with a booster will know they have access to much better coverage when they see stickers telling them they are on a connected train.

There will still be some blackspots until all trains are fitted with boosters and all the new mobile towers are up and running, but by the end of this year, passengers will have great mobile coverage on all their journeys.

With more than 15.5 million passenger trips every year, this project will enable more Victorians to work during their daily commute, delivering an estimated $20 million boost per year to the Victorian economy.

The RRCP is a Labor state government initiative and is part of its increased investment in improving connectivity in regional Victoria.

The government is also creating free public WiFi hotspots in Bendigo and Ballarat, building 166 new towers to fix mobile blackspots, and have launched the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program to address regional priorities.

On top of this, just last week the state government announced Victoria’s nine regional partnerships would share in $1 million to develop comprehensive digital plans to address the needs and priorities of their region.

Victorian Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said RRCP would provide major benefits for people living in regional Victoria.

‘‘Better mobile coverage on these rail lines is part of our effort to connect regional Victoria and remove the digital divide between those living in Melbourne and those living in our regions,’’ Ms Pulford said.

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