Mayor Ken touts mobile phone plan for the Tube

Mind the gap

Commuters on London's Tube network could be able to use mobile phones and wireless internet connections deep underground from 2008 if trials for the technology get the green light.

Mayor Ken Livingstone is looking for suppliers to install their kit to enable commuters to use mobiles and wireless laptops on stations. The scheme could even be extended to include trains as well as underground stations.

If all goes to plan, London Underground would trial the technology next year before a full commercial roll-out in 2008.

"We know that many Londoners would like the convenience of being able to use their mobile phones at Tube stations throughout the Underground network," said Mayor Livingstone. "We also want to see how the technology could be taken even further, for instance wireless Internet so passengers could receive up-to-the-minute travel information via their laptop or mobile phone."

Tube bosses say there is strong support among passengers for mobile access across its network and that there are plenty of technology companies interested in providing services. And while execs remain open-minded about how revenues would be generated and split between the operator and the Tube, bosses said any income generated would be re-invested in the Tube network to fund further improvements for passengers.

Earlier this month thousands of London commuters travelled for free after the Tube's Oyster card payment system clammed up. A snag with the system's scanner pads - which read travellers' smartcards and deduct cash for their trip - meant that ticket barriers were left open during rush hour allowing people to travel for free. ®

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