Telstra is set to provide mobile coverage inside the Geelong rail tunnel, as part of the Victorian government’s A$18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project.

The project is designed to deliver mobile coverage to Victoria’s five busiest rail lines – Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Seymour.

Telstra, which is aimin to kick off the work begin next month, said it was on track to improve coverage along the rail line by constructing two new mobile base stations at Little River East and Tarneit, and also co-locating on a new site at Little River South.

Telstra chief operations officer Robyn Denholm said a critical part of the project, to deliver coverage inside the Geelong rail tunnel, will begin next month and is expected to be completed by the end of June.

“Telstra’s mobile network covers most of the Geelong line already,” said Denholm. ‘Today we are announcing that we will improve coverage for commuters inside the newer V/Line carriages.”

“The importance of mobile connectivity continues to grow, which is why this project is so significant. We know increased coverage is a priority for our customers and for businesses in regional Australia and that is what this project will deliver.

“It’s something our customers have been asking for. Rail patronage is up and people want to use their devices in a reliable way on the train. On the Geelong line alone 7.62 million passenger trips were made last financial year.”

The telco noted that las year, Australians used about 40 per cent more data on its mobile network than in 2016.

“Victoria is the first state to have carrier-approved in-train technology designed to repeat the signal from nearby mobile base stations to ensure the signal can be received by passengers in each carriage,” it added.

Telstra, along with Optus and Vodafone, has agreed to fund construction of the required mobile base stations, a move Telstra said will allow the Victorian Government to focus on its investment in providing in-train repeaters.

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