Results tagged “Tube” from Mayor of London blog

ZDnet report that

London Underground stays in mobile dark ages

By Natasha Lomas

Posted on ZDNet News: Mar 16, 2009 8:54:54 AM

A plan to put mobile connectivity on the London Underground has stalled.

Back in March 2007, Transport for London (TfL) put out a tender for a six-month trial of mobile-phone technology on the Waterloo and City line. The aim of the trial -- originally scheduled for 2008 -- was to determine whether it would be technically and commercially viable for coverage to be extended across the entire Tube network.

Speaking at the time, Richard Parry, strategy and service development director of London Underground, said: "We recognize that there is now growing demand for mobile coverage to be extended to deep-level sections of the Tube."

However, two years on and no trial later the conclusion seems to be that mobiles on the Tube are not commercially viable. A TfL spokeswoman told ZDNet UK's sister site,, that three proposals were received by the October 2007 deadline but none were considered commercially "credible".

"London Underground tendered for a trial of mobile phones on the Waterloo and City line but the market has yet to provide us with a credible proposal for enabling mobile-phone use on the Tube," she said.

The high costs associated with the tenders appear to have seen the project shelved.

"While it is technically possible to deploy mobile-phone and data-wireless solutions on the deep-level Underground tunnels and stations, the unique nature and environment of the Tube mean that project costs would be prohibitively high at this time," the spokeswoman said.

TfL is still open to commercial approaches, according to the spokeswoman, but there are currently no active plans to trial or deploy cellular technology -- meaning the Underground mobile-network rollout has effectively hit the buffers.


Earlier this year, the Airwave emergency communication system went live on the Underground -- which means police and other emergency services personnel are now able to communicate wirelessly through 250 miles of Tube tunnels.

It sounds as if TfL have been too greedy in what they were planning to charge the Mobile Network Operators. Nobody could possibly have made any money, or even covered their costs,on the Waterloo and City Line pilot project - it is far too short a journey.

The prospects of "I will see you in a few minutes" or endless other annoying one sided conversations in public, is one which many people will not regret missing out on on the Tube.

The potential risks of mobile phone activated bombs on the deep Tube, are not to be dismissed lightly either.

Hopefully.any Deep Tube mobile phone location tracking surveillance infrastructure (which would have been provided for free, piggy backing on top of a commercial phone service) will also prove to be too expensive to justify financially. Such surveillance infrastructure obviously already exists for much of the above ground sections of London Underground rail lines.

Transport for London contractor Transys crashes the Oyster Travel Card system for the second time in 2 weeks i.e. since Saturday 12th July.)

According to this TfL press release:

Oyster cards

25 July 2008

A Transport for London spokesperson said:

"There was a technical problem with Oyster card readers at London Underground stations this morning which affected Oyster pay as you go cards only. Oyster card readers on the bus and tram network were unaffected.

"The problem has now been resolved and card readers are progressively coming back on-line at London Underground stations.

"Cards have not been disabled and so can continue to be used as normal. We will automatically refund any passengers who may have been charged the maximum £4 fare as a result of not being able to touch in and out at the beginning and end of their journeys this morning. Oyster card holders need take no further action.

"This problem, like the recent issue, resulted from incorrect data tables being sent out by our contractor, Transys (a consortium of the firms EDS and Cubic). Transys has also issued a statement today confirming that they are taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again, that they will undertake a root cause analysis and, like us, apologising for any inconvenience caused to our customers."

The Transys consortium website says:

TranSys statement : 25/07/08.

The technical problem which affected Oyster readers at London Underground stations has now been resolved and all stations are all fully functional. The problem affected pay as you go users only.

Steps are being taken to ensure that this does not happen again and we will undertake a full root cause analysis.

TranSys regrets any inconvenience caused to Transport for London's customers.

As Transport for London has made clear, Oyster cards are not being disabled and automatic refunds will be made to any customers charged maximum fares as a result of not being able to touch in and out at the beginning and end of their journeys. Oyster card holders need take no further action.

How dare they implement software changes to a live production system, without first checking them thoroughly on a realistic test system ?

These repeated failures are indicative of faulty management, who will probably try to shift the blame onto a junior employee. Will any senior management heads roll ?

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