On-board entertainment server launched

Company

Eurostar is the only high speed train that directly links the UK to France and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel, taking its passengers to major European city centres since 1994. It also runs to Disneyland Paris, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille and provides a seasonal service to the French Alps. 

In total, the operator offers over 60 connecting destinations across France, Germany and the Netherlands, serving over ten million customers per year.

Eurostar’s vision was for an on-board experience delivered by a robust, reliable, free WiFi service that included an entertainment server which delivered the wow factor to its passengers using its E300 and E320 services.

Challenges

Nomad Digital collaborated closely with Eurostar and Go Media (the on-board infotainment provider) overcoming barriers to progress collectively.  A challenge partners encountered was that both projects (for the E320 and E300) were originally treated separately, a project and finance segregation legacy, meaning inconsistencies evolved in the provision of solutions implemented. Eurostar, Nomad and Go Media worked hard together to ensure this didn’t hinder progress and that consistency was largely achieved across the fleets to provide a common, integrated experience for passengers.

Solution

At the very heart of the ability to provide streamed and loaded media content is Nomad Digital’s innovative connectivity solution, which aggregates multiple train-to-shore 3G / LTE networks. It’s a highly-sophisticated, intelligent system, which adapts and flexes to the environment and particular network availability.

To ensure seamless connectivity for hosting media content, the traffic for the "route" seamlessly moves to another available WAN, if one fails. The Central Communications Unit (CCU) intelligently distributes the traffic from these multiple routes across all available WANs, thereby providing aggregated capacity to the total traffic demand of the passengers using the service. The Nomad architecture uses an off-train Home Agent to route all traffic coming from the CCU out to the internet ensuring passenger service is not disrupted. The solution is totally tailored to the passengers’ needs and partners proactively embraced the views of passenger requirements to ensure this solution was benefit led by the end user.

Nomad’s connectivity IP backbone utilises WiFi infrastructure installed at Temple Mills International and St Pancras International to update Go Media’s rich suite of on-train media content. The modular design of the CCU allows Nomad to integrate the additional hardware needed to host the Go Media entertainment portal, even though this requirement emerged more than a year after the initial detailed design phase. This is testament to the CCU’s ability to adopt multiple systems as part of its backbone, futureproofing Eurostar’s needs. The operator is exploring potential to ‘plug-in’ other enhanced services for its passenger, such as live streaming of major events.

Eurostar

Implementation

A WiFi solution material ‘kit’ was supplied by Nomad Digital to Eurostar for each train set. Hardware is preconfigured by Nomad and is installed by SNCF, whilst the train undergoes its major refit / refurbishment, currently undertaken at SNCF’s Technical Centre in Lille, France.

Result

For a number of years, Eurostar passengers had on-board WiFi as their number one requirement. By collaborating closely with Nomad Digital and Go Media, they have been able to deliver a world-class WiFi service and entertainment server, exceeding passenger expectations. The service provision competes for quality, reliability and choice with the major airline providers.

Eurostar passengers now enjoy a complete transformation of their on-board experience. By connecting their mobile phone or tablet to the free on-board WiFi, they can unlock more than 300 hours of popular TV shows and movies ranging from the much-acclaimed Sherlock series to the King’s Speech.  With news, games, magazines, a special children’s zone and a live moving location map, the system sets a new benchmark for on-board entertainment in short-haul travel.