How unlimited wi-fi will transform France’s rail network

At the moment, 300 train stations across France are equipped with Wi-Fi, but the country plans to ramp up this program extending the service to all 3,000 of its stations. With free unlimited Wi-Fi, citizens will be able to track trains on their Smartphone and signal when there is a problem with the line, opening the possibility for direct dialogue. While the plan is a national one, individual cities will also benefit by monitoring the number of passengers using public transport, thereby making it run as smoothly as possible. Here’s a look at the plan and its benefits, as well as the effects in regions like Île-de-France, where it’s already underway— Philippe Leonard 


Connected technology

According to the director of Digital SNCF Gares & Connexions, Marie-Caroline Bénezet, the goal of making train stations more connected across France not only improves the equipment and efficiency of the national rail network, it also affects the lives of the 10 million people who use this mode of transportation. By developing connected technologies, stations can be as precise as possible with the data they transmit to customers, such as the announcement of a train on both the station board and on a Smartphone app, ensuring there is no delay between the two technologies. Here are a few other benefits of streamlining the digital technologies at train stations across France:

  • Digital tools will allow passengers to have a direct discussion with the rail network, indicating if they have any problems or suggestions for improvement
  • Wi-Fi can help estimate the number of people in a station, so a station can adjust the size of the team working there, as well as the equipment, accordingly
  • Stations can improve maintenance and operations, working with real-time situations in the quickest and most strategic ways possible

This summer, SNCF Gares & Connexions is already testing a real-time counting system in three stations, which will alert personnel if traffic becomes too heavy. In time, this service plans to be rolled out to 200 or 300 stations across France. In addition, SNCF is partnering with start-ups on projects like “gare partagée” in Île-de-France, which will offer a number of concierge and catering services to passengers commuting through the 36 stations in the region, making the stations just as inviting as any other major public space in nearby cities.