In 2012, Eurostar announced a £700 million investment in its fleet, with the purchase of state-of-the-art new e320 trains and the complete upgrade of a number of its existing sets. The investment would add new digital capabilities, including electric sockets, Wi-Fi and an on-board entertainment system to offer customers an ever better experience. As part of the project, it asked its customers what would most improve their travel experience. The most popular request was on-board maps, which would let passengers track their journeys and explore points of interest along their routes and at their destinations. Eurostar responded by including a mapping service in the new entertainment system for its trains, alongside films, TV shows and documentaries. Eurostar wanted the service to be more than just maps and the train’s location, and inspire travellers to look for more information, such as recommendations for great local restaurants and scenic routes for walking from the station to their hotel.
Eurostar chose Google Maps and Google Maps APIs to build the mapping service because Google Maps has the most familiar interface, the most comprehensive information about locations throughout Europe, is available in multiple languages, and provides the best tools for customizing map deployments. Eurostar turned to Snowdrop Solutions to build the mapping solution, and Nomad Digital to build the Wi-Fi service with the on-board entertainment platform provided by GoMedia
Eurostar wanted a map with a customized look and feel that would be available to passengers without glitches or delays. This presented unique technical challenges, because Eurostar trains reach speeds of more than 186 miles per hour, and often travel through tunnels, like the 31-mile Channel Tunnel between the U.K. and France. That meant internet access could sometimes be slow or interrupted. Snowdrop Solutions and Nomad Digital created and implemented a customized real-time journey map for Eurostar passengers, built into trains’ seatback entertainment systems.
“Everyone knows how to use Google Maps, and it has far more details about things travellers are interested in than any other mapping service, so it was the clear choice for Eurostar.”
Ken Hart, Principal at Snowdrop Solutions
Eurostar, Snowdrop Solutions and Nomad Digital collaborate to build a world-first in offline maps for European travellers.
“Google Maps is the ideal offline map solution and we are pleased to introduce this on board our trains in direct response to customer demand. By utilizing these latest mapping technologies and deployments, Eurostar has become the first company in the world to put Google Maps in a train and show the passengers where they are on their journey using the GPS positioning. The addition of this, alongside Wi-Fi connectivity and our on-board entertainment system has helped us to further enhance the travel experience for our customers.”
Neil Roberts, Head of Digital at Eurostar