The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rail set to flag off high-tech journey

New Delhi, June 14: The Indian Railways will be launching internet services and full-fledged coverage of mobile cellular phones on trains connecting the four metros —Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai.

The railways is also likely to consider again a proposal from the communications ministry offering equity participation of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in RailTel Corporation.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Emerging technologies in safety and customer satisfaction’, organised by the Institution of Railway Signaling and Telecommunications Engineers (India), Union minister for railways Nitish Kumar today announced that the pilot project has been completed in the Northern Railways for internet service and this will soon be introduced in trains running between four metros.

Commenting on the equity participation by the telecom public sector companies in RailTel, Kumar said, “I recently had discussion with the communications ministry officials and the minister for communications and we are re-examining the proposal.”

The proposal was earlier shot down by railway ministry over the issue of equity. While BSNL and MTNL wanted to have the controling stake, the railways had wanted a 50:50 joint venture.

The railways is planning to exploit the existing infrastructure to provide fullfledged internet service through kisoks on running trains as also offer plug-in-points at berths and also mobile connectivity.

“There are large number of trains running across the country with travel time ranging between 12 and 80 hours where the traveling public do nothing except, read newspapers and magazines or talk to the co-passengers. Even after that there is still spare time to kill. Internet on trains will not only help them reduce their inactivity during the travel but also help complete business and personal requirements,” said A.K Chopra, managing director RailTel.

RailTel is also encouraging cellular operators to utilise the bandwidth available with the railways through its fibre optic cable network and to fix and operate cellular transmitters at railway stations.

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