New Airwave coverage on the Tube

A new £115m contract has now been signed that will use the Airwave radio network to ‘piggy back’ on the Tube’s Connect digital radio system.

Feb 22, 2007
By David Howell
Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs

A new £115m contract has now been signed that will use the Airwave radio network to ‘piggy back’ on the Tube’s Connect digital radio system.

The first area of the Tube to go live will be the East London Line in April with a full rollout across the underground network to be completed by 2008. Plans were already in place to link Airwave and Connect prior to July 7 2005, but the new contract is expected to improve security and allow for more efficient operational practices.

The Connect digital radio network is now live on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and East London lines, and will be rolled-out across the remainder of the Tube network throughout 2007.

This will mean that all UK police forces will have full radio coverage at all 125 below ground Underground stations and follows criticism that poor communication hampered rescue efforts after the July 2005 bombings by terrorists in the capital.

A report from the London Assembly in June last year said there was an over-reliance on the mobile phone network and it was “unacceptable” that rescue teams could not communicate underground.

British Transport Police (BTP) currently have radios that work underground, but other emergency services, including the Met do not have compatible systems and so need to borrow BTP equipment or be accompanied by a BTP officer when underground.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: “The addition of the Airwave radio network to the new Connect digital radio system, currently being rolled out across the Tube network, is good news for London. It will bring added flexibility to the way that emergency services operate underground boosting the Metropolitan and City of London Police response to any incident on the Tube and providing extra reassurance to Londoners.”

London Underground managing director Tim O’Toole said: “London Underground and the Home Office pre-funded works to facilitate the link-up between Connect and Airwave before this contract was signed because of the benefits it would deliver. This will allow the Airwave service to be supplied below ground via the Connect infrastructure that is already in place as quickly as possible.”

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