The Turnbull government this morning promised to spend $12 million improving mobile phone coverage for train commuters between Sydney and Newcastle if it wins next weekend’s election.
The policy will deliver continuous in-train mobile coverage for travellers between the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby, and Wyong on the Central Coast, plus wi-fi at each station.
The federal government expects the rollout to receive an additional $4 million from the NSW state government.
The state government will also be asked to provide access to land along the rail corridor, as well as assistance with planning approvals for the new infrastructure.
An expression of interest process will be set up allowing mobile carriers to bid to build the new capability.
The funding adds to $60 million the federal government already committed to a third round of its mobile blackspot program earlier in the election campaign.
It estimates 30,000 Central Coast residents take on the long-distance commute to Sydney every day, many of whom drop out of mobile reception over significant stretches of the journey.
“This will improve the lives of thousands of Central Coast residents who leave home before dawn each day and return after dark,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.
“It will make work time more productive, enhance leisure time and help families and friends connect.”
The commitment comes after the Victorian state government in 2014 made a similar pledge of $40 million to pay for free wi-fi on V/Line train services from the state’s regional centres into Melbourne, alongside mobile blackspot remediation along 600km of its train lines.