Plans to instal 5G masts along the trans-Pennine route have been cancelled by the government due to “significantly greater” construction costs following a site survey by Network Rail.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which was spearheading the trial has canned the flagship project explaining that significantly higher construction costs and lack of available funding mean the trial will no longer go ahead.
The Trans-Pennine Initiative (TPI) was set to examine how trackside infrastructure can be used to provide rail passengers with 5G connectivity
“Following the completion of a detailed site survey and planning work by Network Rail along the route, that the construction costs and complexity of the radio infrastructure required along the trans-Pennine route are significantly greater than expected,” the statement reads.
The 5G trial was set to be part of the £3bn upgrade to the trans-Pennine rail line between Leeds and Manchester.
The TPI was a joint effort between the Local Full Fibre Networks and 5G Testbeds and Trials Programmes, with Network Rail acting as the delivery partner.
A spokesperson for the DCMS said problems with suppliers also arose during the site survey. The survey concluded that suppliers may have to remove any equipment they installed after the trial was completed, leading to extra costs.
“Although there was interest in the concept of the trial, the market was not prepared to participate on the basis of the available funding (covering equipment provision only) and that following the trial a supplier could be required to remove their equipment,” a spokesperson for the DCMS stated.
When first announced, digital minister Margot James said the trial was going to be “instrumental” in delivering 5G for rail passengers.
“The importance of fast, reliable and uninterrupted connectivity on our rail network is only going to increase,” the minister said. “Projects like the Trans Pennine Initiative will be instrumental in delivering this for passengers and are all part of our commitment to make the UK a world leader in 5G.”
Works to lay fibre optic cable along the entire length of the trans-Pennine line will continue, with 65km of 116km of line completed,
Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.