Free wifi for business rail commuters, says UK government

The government has set out plans for rail passengers to benefit from free on-board wifi on trains across England and Wales from 2017, according to Rail Minister Claire Perry.

Train operators across the country are being asked about how they plan to meet this commitment to provide a service that is becoming increasingly vital to British business, connected commuters during their daily journey. All train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements must include this commitment in their bids from now on.

Where there are no new franchises planned over the next two years, nearly £50 million of funding is to be supplied by the Department for Transport to make sure that wifi is available on certain services from 2017.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

“I am determined to improve journeys for rail passengers. Free wifi is a priority for many as being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make rail travel more productive.

“We are investing record amounts in the rail network as part of our long-term economic plan, and this investment, coupled with major works such as the Thameslink programme, new Intercity Express trains and the Northern Hub, will ensure that passengers will soon have a railway fit for the 21st century.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“As someone who regularly travels from the north of Scotland around the country, I appreciate the value of fast, cheap internet connections on trains for both leisure and business travellers. That’s why the government is earmarking around £50 million to provide free wifi on trains; this and our other franchising improvements mean that nearly three-quarters of rail journeys will be made on trains with wifi provision.”

The £47.8 million funding is money that Network Rail has been required to return to the government for missing punctuality targets set by the Office of Rail Regulation. It is the first time such money has been reinvested into improvements targeted at passengers.


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Words: Peter Cribley

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