Entertainment on wheels: CR will soon install Wi-fi hotspots in locals

Commuters can watch movies, videos for free; service likely to go live in July

MUMBAI: Passengers on board local trains on the Central Railway (CR) will soon be able to have access to movies, soap operas and audio- video songs for free inside compartments.

In a first attempt to provide infotainment to suburban railway commuters, the zonal railway will be providing hotspots — locations that offer internet access over Wi-fi — in Mumbai’s local trains.

Commuters will get access to the preloaded content in the hotspots by downloading a mobile application. Trials of the system are currently underway and the system is likely to be introduced in all trains by July 2019.

After downloading the mobile application — which is still being developed — commuters will have an option to select their preferred language and stream the loaded movies and videos on their smartphones.

“Trials of the system are being undertaken currently,” said Anil Kumar Jain, senior public relations officer, CR.

“The tender processing will be undertaken post the trial at Kurla railway carshed. The hotspots will then be introduced in the local trains. It would take four months for the complete procedure,” said a senior CR


The move to provide infotainment through mobile application in trains on CR follows the popularity of LCD screens that were introduced on board the Tejas Express, which operates between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in Mumbai to Karmali in Goa.

Currently, only luxury trains in the Indian Railways have pre- loaded infotainment contents on their LCD devices.

The hotspots are also being introduced as part of a move to increase the railways’ non- fare revenue. The CR is looking at earning revenue through preloaded advertisement in the hotspots. The railway board, apex body of all zonal railways, has issued directives to the 18 zones of Indian railways to increase its revenue.

The Western Railway (WR) is also working on introducing free Wifi facility for its commuters inside the local trains.

Passenger associations have welcomed the move but have cautioned the railways not to spend too much on the initiative. “It’s a nice move as passengers in local trains travelling on distant routes will be able to watch movies during the journey. However, the railways should restrain from paying any hefty amount for the procurement of the materials and should instead use the money for increasing the number of local trains and commencing work on major railway line projects in the city,” said Lata Argade, president, Railway Pravasi Mahasangh.

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