Government gives green light to free superfast broadband on trains

Telecoms

by Michael Moore| 07 July 2014

£90m scheme will be part-funded by fines imposed on Network Rail.

Train passengers could soon be enjoying access to superfast Wi-Fi networks thanks to a significant investment from the Government.

The £90m scheme to provide faster internet access up to ten times quicker than those currently available will be partly funded by a record-breaking fine set to be handed down to Network Rail by the government this week.

The networks, which will be free to access, should be available within the next three to four years, and will cover much of the national rail system. It will add more reliable equipment alongside the tracks in order to boost Network Rail's current system, which relies on signals broadcast by satellites.

Improvements will be made on some of the busiest lines in the country first, covering stations including London, Manchester, Brighton, Portsmouth and Leeds.

"We all know how frustrating it can be to have our phone calls and internet use constantly disrupted by poor signal while travelling on trains. At the moment it happens too often," said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

"Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they'll get."

Network Rail is being punished by the Office of Rail Regulation for missing key punctuality targets on its long-distance services over five years.

In a change from past fines, however, the money gained from the firm will be invested directly back in to the rail network it monitors as the government hopes to restore public trust in the railways.

The Department for Transport had said last year that it hoped to offer 70% of passengers travelling by train access to mobile broadband speeds of up to 50mbps by 2019 as part of a plan to roll out faster access on the rail network.

Mobile signal on trains would also be boosted by incorporating Network Rail's upgraded infrastructure and the deployment of equipment that minimises barriers to better signal on board a train.

 

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