East Coast Trains says Wi-Fi is why business travellers use rail rather than car or plane
East Coast Trains has announced a £2.2 million upgrade to its on board Wi-Fi service that will see the installation of “industry leading” hardware on its fleet of 44 trains in an effort to provide a more reliable connection for passengers.
The East Coast Main Line, which goes from Kings Cross in London, to Edinburgh, York and Leeds, was the first major route in the UK to offer Wi-Fi in a moving train ten years ago and now 12 out of the 25 UK rail operators offer wireless Internet services. East Coast says although it uses much more advanced technology than it did in 2003, the popularity of smartphones and tablets and the increased speeds of home broadband services had raised expectations.
The new equipment will begin rolling out in early 2014 and is a recognition by the operator that Wi-Fi is rapidly becoming one of the main reasons people chose to travel by rail rather than car or plane.
East Coast Wi-Fi
“It’s vital that our system keeps up with rapidly rising demand from passengers, starting with a more reliable connection into the system from the moment their journey with us begins,” explains East Coast commercial and customer service director Peter Williams. “The investment we are making will upgrade the consistency of the service, by replacing on-train servers, access points and switching equipment which is used to deliver Wi-Fi in every carriage.”
The announcement comes the same week as the government revealed plans to improve mobile signal along the UK’s busiest railway lines as railway travellers become increasingly frustrated at constant gaps in connectivity.
Wi-Fi is currently free for first class passengers whereas those in standard class receive 15 minutes access before they are charged £4.95 an hour or £9.95 for 24 hours. The previous operator of the East Coast Main Line, National Express, scrapped the charge in January 2008 and noticed a three-fold increase in passengers within the month. However the franchise was taken into public ownership in November 2009.
Other operators, such as the Heathrow Express, offer complementary access, while the Scottish government has pledged £2 million to install free Wi-Fi on ScotRail express trains.
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