Victoria splurges $40m on train wireless



news The Victorian Government this morning announced it would spend some $40 million setting up free Wi-Fi services and fixing mobile broadband blackspots on the Seymour line servicing Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon.

In a statement, the state’s Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said a collaborative process with the Commonwealth Government and mobile infrastructure providers would soon commence on the issue. An Expressions of Interest (EOI) process will secure Victorian Government-sponsored Wi-Fi aboard V/Line’s VLocity carriages operating between Melbourne and Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon.

“This announcement will be of enormous benefit to thousands of commuters with 1.4 million passenger trips recorded between Seymour and Melbourne each year,” Mulder said. “Having access to more reliable internet services through free Wi-Fi means commuters will be able to access emails, social media and work without the annoying service interruptions that they currently have to deal with.

“The Coalition Government is committed to building a better public transport network and this initiative will be of great benefit to commuters who want to do work or connect with friends and family while they travel.”

Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish said that many commuters travelling on local V/Line services had expressed frustration with signal drop outs along the 99 kilometres of track between Seymour and Melbourne.

“Eliminating these blackspots along train lines means commuters will be able to access emails, social media and work,” McLeish said. “Commuters travelling beyond these regional centres will also be able to access more reliable mobile services, with the Coalition Government also addressing mobile blackspots across Victoria more broadly.”

“This funding will improve mobile coverage for regional towns affected by mobile blackspots. Around 40,000 Victorians live in areas where mobile coverage is poor or non-existent.”

The announcement will also see the construction of new towers to provide better coverage around the state. The Coalition Government will consider rolling out Wi-Fi services across the V/Line network more broadly following the successful implementation of these five initial services.

I’m sure this move will be welcomed by commuters on the Seymour line. However, one can’t help but suspect that the private sector would eventually have rectified these connectivity issues and that the mobile broadband services will eventually make the in-train Wi-Fi largely irrelevant. That’s generally the way things have gone in other areas.

Image credit: Marcus Wong Wongm, GNU Free Documentation License


  1. That’s quote a good idea if the govt is determined to decentralise the Vic population away from Melbourne. A scenarios such like: Joesephine Bloggs lives in Bendigo and works in Melbourne at a job where she performs most of her business at a workstation. Jo ostensibly performs two hours of her work day on during the commute, and uses VOIP services to stay connected to the office and access the office network over VPN during travel.

  2. Now to have all the animals and pets with wireless collars… Brilliant!
    But no honestly great news for the people in the black spots.

  3. Took the train from Brisbane airport to the city last year. Free Wi-Fi all the way.
    Now there is something the Vic govt could copy…train to the airport and free Wi-Fi all the way in

    • Depends on the train in QLD. Only 64 trains were deployed with wifi because thats what was “funded”

      My understanding a more extensive rollout would possible continued under a QLD Labor goverenment. Newman shitcanned alot of things

  4. Not sure where you picked the wording up from – (the press release or your own words) – but “Seymour line servicing Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon” made me giggle.

    All five lines are seperate, and if you find yourself pulling into Geelong on a Seymour train, you’re in for a giggle… :)

      • Haha,

        All thediffrant model of trains have different effects but in general the problem is the trains are a good Faraday cage. You either need to put towers 10Km apart which is very close together for more rural areas or have some other system weather that be Wi-Fi or some type of passive repeater.

        Not sure the details to design it in but N omni directional antenna on the outside with a dome antenna on the inside would mean the signal has a path to penetrate the skin of the train and the government needs no active or ongoing cost and its cheaper than effecting more towers or paying a telco for mobile broadband access to relay as WiFi. They effectively need to outdoor antenna even if they go WiFi anyway.

        I would need to speak to an wireless network engineer to understand the effects that a passive system has on the overall system as some reflective or VSWR may creep up with that solution.

  5. Any idea whom the project manager is maybe?

    It be interesting to get interview with him and talk about how going to be done. Also the challenges

    Last I heard was whispers from 2012 the Victorian Government was interested in wifi on trains. I guess it took awhile to get approval for funding

    The ex-Project manager for QR was getting door knocked and questioned by Vic gov. After Newman had canceled all government contractors and was hint of job opportunity for him

    We would talk and I asked about what slowed the progress of the deployment. He said the biggest challenges was importing specially made copper cables from USA, which need to be fire proof. Second challenge finally when you have all gear then you gotta schedule the train to arrive into the yard for the installation. Third not having a load balancer that select the best connection based either signal strength/quality and download quota amount.

  6. Yeah – I think the government’s PR department wouldn’t know Seymour from Geelong. They regularly publish PR blurbs on things tailored to each Region. Looks like Delimiter has picked up the Seymour one, which had the error, and didn’t know enough to pick the error.

    Also, the photo of the train is not the type of train that will get the WiFi. The WiFi will be going into Vlocity trains, and that’s not a Vlocity. In fact its a Shepparton line train – different line!

  7. Why don’t don’t governments spend our taxes on things that really matter. So what if people can’t get access to the Internet for an hour or so. Is it really that important? $40 million could be better spent on things that are currently under funded.

    • WIFI trains is basically piggy backs on CCTV mobile data backbone

      Money is either sourced from federal or state level. The Feds will push “National Security” angle and want to provide the funding into the state to spend on brand new CCTV and improved cameras, These days everything is transferred over public mobile data network using a private APN.

      Depending if you can spend anyway between $8-10m for data. You can also offer “free wireless” to passengers

      • Nothing is free in this world, someone has to pay. After all if Optus, Vodafone or Telstra spent $40 million, they would expect to get a return, so why is it that governments spend the huge sums of (borrowed) money and then give away a service. Just wait for it, it won’t be long before the Victorian government (or any other government for that matter) crying out for more funds for this or that. Its time governments started to live within their means. Providing so called free internet services for train commuters is not a service governments should be concerned about. Those that do have got their priorities completely wrong.

        The problem is we live in an era where an age of “entitlement” exists in too many peoples minds and governments just can’t say no. It’s time they had the guts to start saying no.

        • One word Frank…


          Why do you think “we” pay it, for “your” return?

          As tax payers we have a sense of expectation, not a sense of entitlement…

          The problem is we are starting to live in an era run by bean counting, far right lunatics, who have no care for anyone but themselves and the all mighty dollar…

        • Heres the thing Frank, no funding plan is ever going to meet requirements. AS you see it, the $40m should be spent on things that are underfunded. Great, but underfunded by whos definition? Do you give it to the schools, so they have more cookies at lunch? Hospitals, so theres more parking in just one area? $40m doesnt go far…

          I dont drive, so I dont care about money spent on roads. Let all that money be diverted to the underfunded public transport system, thats all I use, so all I care about! Lets get rid of funding to volunteer organisations while we’re at it, like surf life saving, or the rural bushfire services.

          I dont go to the beach, and I dont go to country locations so they dont need it, the money can be spent on more deserving areas…

          The age of entitlement mentality goes both ways – in your case, the entitlement is shown by expecting areas you dont consider important to be ignored.

          Every area that gets funding has less priority to one group or another. iGen kiddies just starting out working might think that comms are more important than health funding for example, or pensioners might think schools have it too easy.

          So whos right? At the end of the day, thats where the balancing happens – speading money thinly to keep everyone moderately happy. As the old saying goes, you cant please all the people all the time.

          • So it would appear you don’t do much except travel on public transport. Why is it you need internet access while you are public transport? What is so important that it somehow needs your attention why you are travelling, for what 1, 2….4 hrs a day? The expectation is you for some reason think you are entitled to it, I just need to understand why is it so!

  8. I am always amazed when I hear the numbers involved with projects like this.

    40 million dollars, to put some wifi repeaters on train carriages, and a couple of 4g receivers.

    Perhaps the mobile infrastructure along the tracks needs an upgrade…

    (and yes; I know 40 million can go very quickly, but it always amazes me!)

  9. And this will not make any difference to the way the trains run! Especially on time with our high speed locos hahaha

  10. This is a waste of money.
    I commute daily and i think the majority of the passengers would prefer the money be spent on ensuring we have enough trains to fit everyone on, and that we have enough services that get us to our destinations on time.
    Free wifi might be nice, but when people regularly struggle to find somewhere to sit/stand, i think they need to get their priorities right.

  11. $40 million is a pittance for any government run project. Got to remember they need at least $30 million per project to waste and squander, so that only leaves $10 mill for this wasteful project.

    Give the $40 mil to an existing ISP and see what they can do with it.

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