Thursday, 28 January 2010

Golden Aerial awards - nominations requested

There is an open letter to Arriva Cross Country's MD over at John Popham's blog, with a bowler tip to @watfordgap.

In the letter John bemoans the lack of connectivity aboard Arriva Cross Country's Voyager fleet.

And he politely suggests that Arriva Cross Country "consider introducing signal boosters into Voyager carriages."

Now the Fact Compiler has used XC's Voyagers on numerous occasions and to be honest, he found them particularly good for both phone and mobile broadband connectivity.

At least they were, until a couple of weeks ago when they become as connectivity friendly as the dreaded Meridians and Desiros.

So John has a very good point, but it's not a problem that is restricted to Arriva Cross Country.

With this in mind Eye invites readers to suggest the best and worst TOC fleets for mobile working.

Eye will then award Golden Aerials to the best connected fleet (free wifi), Silver Aerials (paid for or no WiFi but your own kit can still pick up a signal) and Bent Aerials (train made of lead).

Eye's starter for 10:

Golden Aerials (free wifi)

  • East Coast (HSTs and IC225s)
  • Grand Central (HSTs)
  • Heathrow Express (332s)
  • Virgin (Pendolini - First Class Only)
  • Wrexham and Shropshire (only on refurbished sets)

Silver Aerials (I can connect!)
  • Arriva XC (HSTs)
  • C2C (Electrostar 357)
  • Charter Operators (Mk1s and Mk2s are pretty good)
  • EMT (HSTs)
  • FCC (319s)
  • First Great Western (HSTs)
  • Northern (14x & 15x fleets do connectivity)
  • Southern (377s)
  • South West Trains (159s)
  • Virgin (Voyagers)

Bent Aerials (if the bomb drops I want to be sitting here)
  • Arriva XC (Voyagers)
  • EMT (Meridians)
  • SWT (Desiros)
  • Virgin (Pendolini - Standard Class)
Eye welcomes any additional contributions and suggested regradings.

UPDATE: This, via Twitter, from @SWLines...

Don't forget @WrexShropRail have free WiFi in all classes on all the refurbished sets. Dunno how many unrefurb left, though.

And you may care to point out that Arriva Cross Country promised WiFi in all Voyager and HST trains by 11th November 2009 (2 years into the franchise).

And so they did - naughty Arriva Cross Country! I wonder what the supine Department for Transport plan to do about that broken franchise promise?

UPDATE: This, via Twitter, from @Richard_Baker...

All virgin trains have orange signal boosters I think.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Willis...

I'd like to nominate First Great Western (HSTs) for a silver aerial - at least for most of the route between Paddington and Oxford.

There's a black hole somewhere in the Cholsey Gap...

UPDATE: This from Pendolino Warrior...

Phew,home at last and able to communicate with the world......reliably.

Virgin Wifi is slow and unreliable. It just can't take the demand placed upon it.

Effectively it ticks the box for Wifi on trains but does little more. It is provided by TMobile and can be very Germanic...

General Error advances west.

UPDATE: This, via Twitter, from @AMonkster...

As for dongles, c2c route fairly friendly.

Blackspots at Limehouse, East Ham, Dunton Bank and just west of Southend Central.

357014 is pilot free T-Mobile Hotspot. 357034 has trial signal dampener in the Quiet Zone to reduce no. of bars reception.

UPDATE: This, via Twitter, from @SWLines...

AFAICT XC ripped out boosters upon the franchise change as all stickers disappeared, instead of having VT reference removed.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Of course the East Coast WiFi is "first generation" with remarkably low data speeds and regular disconnections.

DOR "wonder-woman" Elaine Holt says one of her first priorities is to get it upgraded - but don't expect it to remain free of charge for Standard Class passengers.

Meanwhile over at Virgin people are finding better reception and less drop-outs on its SuperVoyagers.

Veteran operator Chris Gibb says this is because his 221s have a dedicated receiver for every vehicle, whilst the Pendolinos share fewer receivers and the signal, especially north of Crewe, gets lost more easily.

Finally WSMR may have free WiFi, but logging on requires the inputting of an email address and contact details.

Give it a couple of days and the mailshots will start arriving in your in-box... shameless!

UPDATE: This from Murray...

RE East Coast (HSTs and IC225s) - it may be free, but have you tried using it?

It is slow at the best of times, but on my last journey it crapped out at least six times between Edinburgh and London.

In most cases it was much faster to use my iphone & 3G even when the train wifi was "working".

You get what you pay for.