Passengers on two suburban railway (‘S-Bahn’) lines in the Stuttgart region can now enjoy free WLAN and a dedicated S-Bahn portal. This testing phase was launched in January for a period of six months, after which a decision will be taken as to whether to roll out the Wi-Fi portal to all 160 S-Bahn trains.

Key determining factors in this regard are the stability of the connection, the content and of course user feedback. The portal provides them with timetable information, general information about the S-Bahn service, the Stuttgart region as well as all the latest news from various sources including the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper. This is the first S-Bahn rail service in Germany to offer a Wi-Fi portal in a major urban centre and to provide digital content offline.

The portal was developed by Siemens; WLAN access is provided by internet provider Hotsplots, while the wireless routers are supplied by NetModule. The NB3711 railway communication platform used here is optimised for applications such as passenger Wi-Fi, passenger information, condition monitoring, passenger counting systems, ticket vending machines as well as driver communication. In addition to wireless internet access, it offers numerous additional interfaces for interaction with the on-board electronic systems.

The router integrates two wireless modules, which permits simultaneous use of multiple providers to ensure the best internet connection at all times. Since all applications run on a single device, installation is quick, easy and ideal for retrofitting. This makes the NB3711 router a cost-effective compact solution. As a further advantage, the system is scalable and can be adapted to specific requirements, from basic WLAN all the way to the optional passenger portal with locally stored content.

The S-Bahn Stuttgart railway network and the Verband Region Stuttgart authority are planning to roll out Wi-Fi equipment as standard across the entire S-Bahn fleet – to give local public transport a competitive advantage. For the time being, the two vehicles equipped with free Wi-Fi and portal will operate on the S4, S5 and S6 lines. They are identified by corresponding stickers on doors and windows.