Travellers using the InterCityExpress (ICE) train service between Frankfurt airport and Cologne can now enjoy wifi internet access en route, through internet provider T-Mobile. Deutsche Bahn (DB) and T-Mobile first introduced wifi hotspots to the ICE in 2005, on connections between Dortmund and Cologne.
Passengers can log on using either a laptop or wifi enabled PDA – customers with existing T-Mobile contracts have immediate access to the service, while non-subscribers can purchase access time by credit card. In addition to the in-train service, DB lounges in 14 stations have also been equipped with T-Mobile hotspots.
The partners are planning to extend their existing wifi service to two further ICE connections before the end of the year, to encompass connections from Frankfurt to both Hamburg and Munich. The number of ICE trains equipped with broadband is set to rise from seven at present to more than 50.
In other news Deutsche Bahn is working with Vodafone to develop a new method of payment, in which mobile phones will replace printed tickets. Touch & Travel is based on soon-to-be-launched mobile phone technology, which facilitates remote data transmission from a short distance. Customers will pay for travel by touching in and out at "Touchpoints", with the press of a button on their mobile phone.
An initial trial for this project will start this year in three main locations: the ICE route between Berlin and Hanover, part of the S-Bahn network in Berlin, and the entire local transport network in Potsdam. The partners plan to have the system ready for the market within the next two years.
Report by Karen Eeuwens