NIF Concept Image

New Intercity Fleet – what to expect

On-board Wi-Fi and passenger load displays coming to the New Intercity Fleet

Edit: earlier I had indicated that the trains will come in 6+2 and 2+2 sets.  I have now corrected it to show 6+4 and 4+4 sets as per the contract.

It’s been long overdue, but the beloved intercity V sets first introduced in the 70s will soon be replaced by a new shiny fleet of trains — the New Intercity Fleet.

Some of the details have already been publicly announced by Transport for NSW and NSW Trains… but I thought I might as well dive a little further into the contract with the UGL/Mitsubishi/Hyundai Rotem consortium to see what else I can find.

Train consist

Firstly, the train sets are to come in 6 car sets or 4 car sets — a departure from the 4 and 8 car set configuration found in the existing fleet.  According to the contract, the “initial” fleet will consist of:

  • Long trains: 34 long trains consisting of a 4 car and a 6 car unit, and
  • Short trains: 21.5 short trains consisting of a pair of 4 car units

This adds up to 426 cars of the 512 cars announced, in the initial fleet.  This will adequately replace the existing 225 V set cars.

Contract excerpt from the New Intercity Fleet indicating the train formation
The contract specifies the train formation of the New Intercity Fleet (Source: TfNSW)

Passenger seating

The contract specifies that the short train must have the capacity to carry at least 650 seated passengers plus 345 standing passengers.  The long train must be able to carry at least 820 seated passengers and 410 standing passengers.

The contract also requires the passenger seating to “deliver a level of comfort comparable or superior to that offered by the existing TfNSW V-set rolling stock fleet”.

As was announced, the seating will have a 2+2 configuration rather than the unpopular 2+3 configuration found in the current fleet.  Each pair of seats will get at least one USB charging port and a GPO port for charging laptops and other devices.

Seats must have leg room of at least 750mm, with seat width of at least 480mm.

Contract excerpt from the New Intercity Fleet about the seating dimensions
The contract specifies seating configuration, charging ports and seat dimensions on the New Intercity Fleet (Source: TfNSW)

On-board Wi-Fi, again

It’s not the first time that we were promised on-board Wi-Fi on train services.  The Waratah (A-set) trains were initially promised to have Wi-Fi capabilities.

However, the service never eventuated… probably due to the global financial crisis which saw the Reliance Rail consortium requiring financial assistance from the NSW Government.

The New Intercity Fleet contract requires each train to be fitted with Wi-Fi equipment separate from the train’s communication system.  TfNSW will provide the public internet access service.

Contract excerpt from the New Intercity Fleet about the provision of Wi-Fi equipment
The contract specifies that Wi-Fi equipment needs to be installed on the New Intercity Fleet (Source: TfNSW)

Passenger load indicator

In a first on trains in NSW, the new fleet is expected to include a passenger load indicator on each carriage.  The contract specifies that this will be displayed on a bodyside display located on both sides of a car — similar to the destination indicator on the Hunter sets.

Sydney Trains has also been working on similar technology on its existing fleet by calculating the weight of the passengers on board.

This will (hopefully) allow passengers select a less crowded carriage at a glance.

Contract excerpt from the New Intercity Fleet. Trains must have a external bodyside display indicating passenger load on each carriage
The contract specifies that passenger load must be displayed on the bodyside indicator on the New Intercity Fleet (Source: TfNSW)

There’s a lot to go through in the contract… but that’s just some of the interesting bits I found.  If you want to have a read of the contract yourself, they can be found on the Transport for NSW website:

LTSS Base Station: Sunset

Qantas to sign trial satellite product with NBN for Wi-Fi

nbn co and Qantas set to begin a proof-of-concept agreement to test the delivery of a on-board Wi-Fi from February 2017

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released its test agreement with Qantas allowing them to test a “Proof-of-Concept Aeronautical Mobile Satellite Service” on a Qantas test aircraft.

The proof-of-concept test is expected to help guide the development of nbn’s Satellite Mobility Product expected to launch in the third quarter of 2017.

Qantas has already begun preliminary engineering testing of its proposed on-board Wi-Fi product on a Boeing 737 aircraft (VH-XZB). The national carrier intends to partner with service provider ViaSat to deliver on-board Internet connectivity once the mobility product becomes available.

The trial product will be delivered over a Layer 3 VPN connection over the NBN Satellite Network. nbn will be responsible for the network between the Air Network Interface (ANI) located on the test aircraft’s Air Terminal and the Mobility Network-Network Interface (M-NNI) located at the NBN Point of Interconnect (POI).

As part of the trial, the network speed will be limited to 20 megabits per second for each aircraft on at most two aircrafts concurrently. The connection will also be limited to agreed flight corridors.

Earlier analysis by jxeeno blog has concluded that on-board Wi-Fi products are likely to have little or no impact on the congestion of beams given the short duration of time each aircraft spends under a single beam.

The proof-of-concept agreement is set to kick in from 1st February 2017 and is expected to run until 1st September 2017 unless terminated early or extended. However, Qantas is yet to officially announce its public launch date for the on-board Wi-Fi service.

nbn™ logo (large)

nbn introduces DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs this month

No high-speed tiers to accompany launch of higher speed network

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, is set to begin installing new HFC Network Termination Devices (NTDs) at the end of this month to allow them to connect to the upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 network.

nbn’s NTD is a customised CM8200B DOCSIS 3.1 modem from Arris, who successfully won a tender to supply the network equipment.

nbn's new HFC Network Termination Device capable of DOCSIS 3.1
nbn’s new HFC Network Termination Device capable of DOCSIS 3.1 (Source: nbn co)

nbn had initially planned to begin deploying its DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs in December 2016. This has been pushed back by a month to the end of January 2017, with the company issuing an amendment to its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA2).

In their notification letter to Access Seekers, nbn states that it intends to “introduce the new CM8200B (DOCSIS 3.1) HFC-NTD deploying on all HFC installations from end January 2017”.

No speed increase despite upgrade

Despite touting the speed capabilities of the new DOCSIS 3.1 modems, nbn will not launch new speed tiers to accompany the launch of the new modems.

In November 2015, nbn’s Chief Technology Officer penned a blog post saying that new modems by Arris will be capable of delivering “a stunning 5Gbps downstream and 2Gbps upstream”.

However, the maximum speed tier nbn will offer over the HFC network will remain at 100/40 Mbps. The January 2017 Integrated Deployment Plan also shows no future plans to introduce higher speed tiers already available the NBN Fibre network.

DOCSIS 3.1 promises to provide improved network performance and speeds through increased modulation orders and wider spectrum utilisation.

The new NTD will also have a second Ethernet port, however, the port will be disabled and covered by a sticker at launch.