New Delhi, Aug. 28: The Indian Railways is planning to make the New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express the first Wi-Fi-enabled train in the country.
Internet browsing using the Wi-Fi technology is planned to be introduced in the Howrah-Rajdhani Express as a pilot project by December-end, a member of the Railway Board said.
The Wi-Fi facility, available at the international airports in the country, enables laptop users to access the Net without plugging into a regular connection, or having to use a data card.
Both business travellers and commuters will be interested in using wireless services on trains as it will enable them to productively use the nearly 24 hour travel and be in touch with the global community and share their experiences in real time, the official said.
They said the facility would be initially available in three rakes of the train and extended to other trains depending on the success of the project.
The estimated cost of the project is Rs 6.30 crore, and the railways have awarded the contract for the equipment and their installation.
The officials said browsing of the Net would be through a satellite-based system using Wi-Fi for the distribution of Internet bandwidth.
The satellite link-up cost is more than Rs 1.75 crore and the equipment to facilitate Internet access will cost around Rs 4.5 crore, a senior railway ministry official said.
RailTel Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Indian Railways, had conducted successful trials in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express in January.
RailTel conducted the technical trial with vendors, including the UKsNomad Digital and Belgiums 21Net, who have deployed satellite-based Internet for VIARail (Canada), Thalys (EU) and NTV (Italy).
The trials have proved that passengers will experience seamless connectivity on running trains. Considering the revenue it will yield, the project is being given top priority, officials said.
The railways plan to equip other Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains with Wi-Fi facility in the future.
Passengers will have to make a requisition to the travelling ticket examiner to access the Internet. The examiner will send the requisition to the central hub and a password will be sent through SMS to the passengers mobile phone.
According to the other option being considered, passengers will have to visit the RailTel website, register themselves and purchase credit to access the Net.
While the charges for Internet use and the security issues are being worked out, officials said payment could be through credit, debit card or Net banking.