Improving the travel experience

How can a train journey be made more interesting, especially in a country not famed for its rolling landscapes? Greek railway operator Trainose is attempting to do just that by suppling all carriages with entertainment systems that travelers will have access to during their journeys and hopefully make train travel more attractive to new customers.

The scheme is already in the trial phase and Trainose expects that by mid-2014, all those who use the country’s rail service will be able to enjoy films, music and electronic games and books during their journeys.

The wireless network consists of individual entertainment stations in all cars that allow travelers to download songs or playlists, films, games and books onto their smartphones, tablets or laptops.

“The first thought was to install free wireless Internet on all carriages so that passengers could surf the Internet, but the cost is very high and not all parts of the country have adequate coverage,” the president and CEO of Trainose, Thanasis Ziliaskopoulos, told Kathimerini.

The company opted instead for passenger entertainment systems such as those used on airplanes with the idea being to install screens in the train carriages. This also proved complicated, mainly from a technical point of view, leading to the innovative idea of installing a local network that would allow passengers a variety of entertainment choices.

As far as cell phone coverage is concerned, most rail carriages already have systems for improving connectivity that have been installed by the country’s three main operators – Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind. Meanwhile, passengers are allowed half an hour’s worth of free Internet at the stations of Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Larissa, a scheme that is expected to expand to other stations soon.

Free Wi-Fi in the meantime, is also being gradually expanded to cover other forms of public transport, according to a recent announcement by OSY, the operator for buses and trolley buses.

The scheme is currently in the pilot phase with two bus lines offering Wi-Fi services. These are the 302 line from Doukissis Plakentias in northern Athens to Gerakas in the northeast and the No 6 trolley bus from Ippocratous Street in central Athens to Kokkinos Mylos in the western suburb of Acharnon. OSY plans to expand the service to cover as many buses and trolley buses as possible by the first quarter of 2014. The cost of the first phase of the scheme, which will cover 17 routes for a period of 18 months, is 15,000 euros.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi systems are also expected to be set up within the next few days at the Athens metro and ISAP electrical railway stations of Panepistimio, Syntagma, Acropolis, Doukisis Plakentias, Omonia, Piraeus and Nerantziotissa.

Sources suggest that passengers will be able to go online at all of the capital’s metro stations by the end of 2014, though service when traveling through deep tunnels will be interrupted as coverage in some parts is impossible to secure.

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