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Network Rail's £70m fine will help put faster broadband on trains

by Mark Tyson on 7 July 2014, 09:30

Tags: UK Government

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A proportion of Network Rail's record-breaking fine will be used to help fund the £90m government scheme to provide faster broadband access on trains across England and Wales, reports the BBC News.

Network Rail, which is responsible for our rail networks, could face a £70m penalty, due to delays on long-distance services over five years, as it failed to hit punctuality targets. Only 89.9 per cent of trains ran on time, Network Rail admitted, missing the official 92.5 per cent target. However the fine could be much lower than the headline amount as regulators made allowances for bad weather periods.

It is thought that the £90m government initiative will significantly improve data speeds by funding Wi-Fi equipment to be used alongside the train tracks, rather than satellite systems. Speeds as least 10 times faster than the current service are expected and the service will be offered to commuters for free. The implementation scheme will begin immediately and the improved service should become available within three to four years.

"We all know how frustrating it is to have our internet constantly disrupted on trains. At the moment it happens too often. Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they’ll get," said Transport Secretary's spokesperson Patrick McLoughlin, according to the Daily Mail.

The government will be investing in the busiest commuter lines first, including services into London from Bedford, Brighton, Kent and Portsmouth as well as services to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. The scheme is a bid to encourage more travellers to commute by train, as the faster and more secure broadband will mean that passengers can work at the same time.

"Today's announcement that we are providing free Wi-Fi on trains means people can more easily work and keep up with friends while on journeys," said Lib Dem transport minister Baroness Kramer. "As well as steps we have already taken to make train travel as affordable and efficient as possible we hope free Wi-Fi will encourage even more people to make the greener choice and travel by train."

I've never used the Wi-Fi on trains; have any HEXUS readers got experience of the current service?



HEXUS Forums :: 18 Comments

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I've used Irish rail's wifi service occasionally when my phone was running down. It's not much better than my 3g coverage with three, so I'd rather use that if I have ample battery.
Since I live in Newcastle, this story is pretty much pointless to me. This is just another ‘much needed’ investment in London. It blows my mind that this is what the investment will be about. Surely if your work want to you work whilst travelling somewhere, they will provide a 3g USB dongle. My ‘backwater’ employer in Newcastle does, can't see why London folk don't pull there fingers out. (End the angry rant of a Northern. I'm probably just being bitter anyways :p)
You make a good point Jowsey but I still think it was an inevitable and necessary development. Eventually it will spread north, how that takes I'm not sure
Gotta laugh when they said “free Wi-Fi” Who do they think ends up paying for this £70 million fine, or giving the government the money so they can invest in it ?
It's like saying the NHS is free, we may not pay at the time of use but that doesn't mean it's free.
Jowsey
Since I live in Newcastle, this story is pretty much pointless to me. This is just another ‘much needed’ investment in London. It blows my mind that this is what the investment will be about. Surely if your work want to you work whilst travelling somewhere, they will provide a 3g USB dongle. My ‘backwater’ employer in Newcastle does, can't see why London folk don't pull there fingers out. (End the angry rant of a Northern. I'm probably just being bitter anyways :p)
I think it's about the speed you can get. Kind of like when using the WiFi on an airplane, it's dog slow, by having lineside repeaters, rather than using sat data, it can be faster.

Also, there is one good reason why you need this it's a good wheeze to not have to travel in scum class. I can easily daisy chain my phone, but would not tell anyone so I get to have a bit of leg room.