Why do I get no phone signal on the train? UK mobile operators failing to deliver on rail network

A recent study by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has found that in the UK a third (30.3 percent) of all mobile internet tasks and one in seven phone calls attempted on the train fails. If you're a commuter then this comes as no surprise, but why does your phone never work on the train? 

We've conducted our own tests of the 3G and 4G offerings of UK mobile operators in partnership with Broadband Genie, and it comes as no surprise to learn that GWS has crowned Three as the best network for making phone calls on the UK's rail roads, and EE as the best network for 4G data. Contrary to our own tests, GWS also found Vodafone the best UK network for 3G data out on the tracks. Also see: What is 4G? A complete guide to 4G. 

Best of a bad bunch, that is. For GWS claims EE, O2 and Vodafone rely heavily on their 2G networks or half-rate codecs to decode voice calls on the UK's train lines, and that at some stations commuters are all but unreachable. It claims King's Cross St Pancras is by far the worst-connected train station in the UK, followed by Radlett, Kentish Town, Upminster, Elstree and Borehamwood, Hendon, St Albans, Cricklewood, Kidbrooke and Ockenden.  

Do you use any of these stations? Comment on your network's performance there below. Also see: What's the difference between 3G, 4G, GPRS, E and Wi-Fi? 

Paul Carter, CEO of GWS, said: “Leaves on the track, the wrong kind of snow, having to stand up all the way to work and back – commuters have enough to contend with without the kind of mobile connectivity problems we’re revealing today. It’s hard to believe we’re in 2014 and in a situation whereby a trained wizard would have a tough time getting a signal on the Hogwarts Express while it’s sitting in St Pancras. 

“Pressure from commuters makes it inevitable that trains won’t keep their status as mobile dead zones for much longer. It’d be great to see networks, rail operators and stationmasters taking the lead on improving connectivity for commuters – rather than having to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming.” 

GWS found that problems making phone calls or getting online are most likely to be experienced when a train is travelling between 0- and 5MPH or above 50MPH.