Thane and Kalyan railway stations on the Central Railway’s suburban main line account for the maximum number of users of the free Wi-Fi service provided by the railways across the country, said sources in RailTel, which provides the service. Officials claimed that users at these suburban stations have outnumbered most of the other major railway stations that see higher footfall or share of waiting passengers.
RailTel Corporation of India, a mini-ratna public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, provides RailWire, a Wi-Fi service, for passengers at A1 & A category railway stations across the country. The project was launched at selective stations in Mumbai in 2015. More than 20 suburban stations now offer free Wi-Fi connectivity to passengers, among a total of 146 stations in the country.
Expectedly, Mumbai sees the heaviest usage of this service.
“The response in Mumbai for the connectivity is pretty good. Suburban railway stations hardly see commuters standing at the particular station for a long time due to the rush to catch the train to work or home. For that matter, we expected greater usage of the service at stations addressing rush of long-distance trains as passengers arrive early to spend more time at the station premises,” said Sucharita Pradhan, public relations officer for RailTel.
The study of the Wi-Fi usage was conducted over the past two months. Both Thane and Kalyan stations that recorded average daily passenger count of over two lakh, were ahead of Howrah and New Delhi stations.
“A daily average of 18,000 to 20,000 users of the Wi-Fi have been registered at these stations. The usage refers to downloads or those using internet services for browsing,” Pradhan added.
“I have used the Wi-Fi at stations to update my phone’s software. Once or twice, I also tried using the net to upload my concerns on Twitter and other social media tools,” said Amit Bhadricha, a commuter who has used Wi-fi at more than one station.
“The connectivity is not that seamless at most stations. However, the speed is pretty good. I tend to put on the Wi-Fi when I have time to watch interesting videos,” said Shashank Shlok, a college student who has used Wi-Fi at Thane station.
Weekdays recorded higher usage of Wi-Fi at the stations owing to heavy commuter rush. A total of 400 railway stations will be provided with Wi-Fi connectivity in the coming years, including more stations in Mumbai.