Scottish Government To Fund Free ScotRail Wi-Fi

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Holyrood pledges £2 million to install free Wi-Fi on Scottish express trains

Scottish rail passengers will benefit from free Wi-Fi on ScotRail express trains, following a £2 million investment from the Scottish government.

ScotRail Wi-Fi will be installed on all 59 of the train operator’s ‘class 170’ trains which currently run between most Scottish cities and in the Fife and Stirling areas.

The first Wi-Fi-enabled trains will come online from March 2013, with five or six new locomotives added each month. In addition, ScotRail says that it will provide train running information and other services on the Wi-Fi landing page.

Free ScotRail Wi-Fi coming

Forth Bridge Railway Scotland © Rob van Esch ShutterstockWi-Fi has already been installed in four trains as part of a successful trial earlier this summer. Customer feedback revealed that 77 percent of customers were satisfied with speed and performance. Nearly three quarters used the service for personal use, with 28 percent using it for business, but the initiative has been welcomed by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

“We have an absolute commitment to bringing better connectivity to every corner of Scotland and I have been highly encouraged by the success of ScotRail pilot scheme,” said Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown. “A major challenge for the transport industry is embracing new technologies to meet the demands of passengers and help them get on with their ever more busy lives while travelling.

“Just like our roads and railways, the internet is a vital part of Scotland’s infrastructure. It is essential that people throughout Scotland have online access to enable our economy to thrive, which is why we are already forming plans to further expand Wi-Fi provision across the rail network.”

“We are confident the installation of free Wi-Fi will be warmly welcomed by our customers,” said Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail. “More journeys are made on our class 170s than any other of our trains, so it makes sense to begin the roll-out on this fleet.”

In London, Virgin Media currently supplies Wi-Fi to London Underground stations, but the service will cease to be free for non-customers or those of wholesale partners from 2013. The Cloud has won a separate deal to provide Wi-Fi connections at all 56 stations on the London Overground network, but this service will continue to be free next year.

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