Heathrow Express (HEX) was launched in 1998 and carries an average of 16,000 passengers a day between London Paddington and one of the busiest airports in the world, London Heathrow. It is the fastest rail link between London and Heathrow, with a journey time of just 15 minutes to Terminals 2 and 3 and a few minutes more for Terminals 4 and 5.
Some of the journey time between Paddington and Heathrow is spent travelling through a tunnel. The main challenge with this particular project was to provide the internet connectivity to passengers as they travelled through this tunnel, where there is very poor cellular coverage.
In addition, HEX wanted to provide their passengers with a seamless experience, allowing them to connect to WiFi on the platform and remain connected as they board the train and throughout the entire journey. HEX felt that given the journey time and the type of passengers on their service, particularly the business traveller, an unbroken connection from platform to arrival destination was essential.
Naturally Nomad Digital, the leading provider of passenger solutions to the rail industry, provided the answers to providing this fantastic passenger experience.
HEX passengers are able to log on to the WiFi on the platform, board the train and maintain continuous connectivity throughout the journey. Therefore, boarding passengers are able to log on and enjoy uninterrupted web browsing, and check those all important business emails all the way to their destination.
This connection is achieved via a mixture of platform WiFi, WiMAX and 3G and is a great example of Nomad’s cutting-edge switching technology. Nomad’s solution automatically switches between the best available signals without timing out of sessions.
As an industry first, Nomad expertly overcame the tunnel’s coverage issues by installing a WiMAX network, which enables an extensive connectivity range along the 8km long tunnel.
HEX’s fleet includes 14 trains, with 61 carriages in total. Nomad skilfully and efficiently installed the solutions within 4 months, which included a central communications unit on each train, access points, WiMAX radios & platform WiFi at three stations (Heathrow Central, Terminal 4 and 5).
As a result of Nomad’s innovative solutions, customers can effortlessly access the internet from the platform and throughout their entire journey. They are able to watch live Sky international and domestic news and weather via Express TV on-board the train.
Additionally, HEX was the first train company in the UK to launch a fully functional train ticket app, allowing customers to purchase and receive tickets direct to their smartphone. Nomad’s connectivity solutions further enhances the availability and ease of use of this app on the platform and on the train, enabling passengers to show proof of purchase via their own device.
HEX has maintained its reputation for delivering outstanding customer service, proactively enhancing their offering and catering to the demands of the modern day traveller. HEX achieved an impressive score of 95% for overall satisfaction in the Autumn 2015 independent National Passenger Survey.
Nomad’s high-speed system has provided access for millions of business and consumer passengers on the service each year since installation and has cemented Heathrow Express as one of the UK’s best train operators.