The Andrews Labor Government will fix mobile blackspots along the state’s five busiest regional rail corridors by partnering with our largest mobile carriers – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – in an Australian first project.

The $18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project will significantly improve mobile coverage and connectivity for commuters along the Melbourne to Bendigo route – which sees more than 2.41 million passenger trips annually.

Having three mobile carriers work together on this project is a major win for commuters – this means that customers on all three networks will see improved mobile coverage rather than just one carrier’s customer base.  Ms Thomas said, “Regular commuters spend up to 20 hours per week on regional trains and this project will keep them connected.”

Passengers on the Bendigo line will begin to experience improved mobile coverage, particularly between Sunbury and Riddells Creek, Kyneton and Malmsbury, Taradale and Chewton, Harcourt and Kangaroo Flat and near Macedon from the end of this year – with up to 11 new mobile towers to be constructed in 2017 and 2018.

As part of the solution, Victoria will also be the first state in Australia to implement in-train technology used to boost the signal from mobile towers outside the rail carriage to devices used inside.”It’s frustrating when you can’t get signal from the train and you have work or homework to do. This project will allow commuters to use their travel time more effectively and access the same services that are afforded to metropolitan commuters.” Ms Thomas said.

Work has already begun to pilot the installation of mobile reception repeaters in VLocity trains, which is designed to boost in-train coverage from less than 50 per cent to almost full network coverage. If successful, the repeaters will be rolled out on the entire VLocity fleet in 2018.

The Regional Rail Connectivity Project is expected to boost the productivity of commuters from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Seymour, delivering an estimated $20 million per annum to the Victorian economy.

Quote attributable to Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis

“This Australian-first project is a massive win for Bendigo commuters – no matter which network they use, they will see significant improvements in connectivity on their journey.”