Amadeus has led a Series A financing round of a total commitment of £8 million in Nomad Holdings, a UK company that designs, installs and operates high bandwidth connectivity on board trains. German venture firm T-Mobile Venture Fund has participated in the round

Based in Newcastle, Nomad has devised technology that enables dependable broadband connectivity on trains and also allows train operators to run a host of applications to improve the management of their extensive rail fleets. The company’s system works by connecting the train to wireless base stations along the track. This means the train runs along a corridor of wireless coverage, allowing information to be sent and received at speeds 25 times faster than domestic broadband internet access. 

The system is unique in that it provides continuous high speed coverage, even through tunnels and on underground sections of track. The high bandwidth allows innovative applications such as real time CCTV to be implemented. Passengers can surf the net, send and receive e-mails, and quickly transfer large files, while operators can monitor the performance of their trains, install real time security CCTV and locate all their fleet at any one time.

Nomad was founded by two serial entrepreneurs, Nigel Wallbridge and Graeme Lowdon, who worked together at listed online auction business, Just2Clicks. The company has already secured first mover advantage in its market with deployment, in partnership with T-Mobile, on the London-Brighton Express and a series of long term, exclusive franchises to deliver on-train services. The company’s model is to acquire broadband franchise concessions from train operating companies and to sell rights to use the network to service providers for particular applications.

The funding will be used to build up the Nomad team and to roll out Nomad’s product globally.

Commenting on the investment, Amadeus Director, Roy Merritt, who joins the Nomad Board, said: “Passenger travel is a big, global business and, as internet connectivity becomes prevalent everywhere, Nomad’s technology for providing reliable connectivity on board trains addresses a potentially huge market. The company is currently working on opportunities in three continents and we have every confidence it will develop into a very successful international business.” 

Nomad CEO, Graeme Lowdon said: “This investment marks a major watershed for Nomad. For the past three years, we have been developing and refining the system and we have proved it commercially on Southern’s network. We now have installations in the UK, Holland and North America and can now exploit the huge, worldwide opportunities that exist for this system. Its potential applications include an enhanced travelling experience for passengers, a revolution in railway signalling and traffic control, and as a powerful security tool on rail transport networks.’’

“Nomad’s solution offers a compelling extension of T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Hotspot network as well as a complement to T-Mobile’s GPRS and 3G services,’’ said Lars Michaelsen, investment manager T-Mobile Venture Fund. Demand from business users for secure e-mail access on the move is growing. T-Mobile is able to offer this by maintaining a constant data session for the entire journey. We have backed Nomad as we believe in the potential of Wi-Fi on trains for business users as well as for consumer applications.”

Advisers on the transaction were, for Amadeus: KPMG (accounting due diligence) and Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP (legal) and, for Nomad: Gordons (legal).