Passengers on commuter trains in England and Wales could soon enjoy WiFi access ten times faster than what is currently available.
Part of a project funded by the Department of Transport, the equipment for fast Internet access will be installed over the next three to four years on busy routes between London and Bedford, Brighton, Kent and Portsmouth as well as services into Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
"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,” said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
"At the moment it happens too often. Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they'll get."
Part of the foreseen £90m budget of the new installations will be covered from a multimillion-pound penalty imposed on Network Rail for missing punctuality targets, which will be announced tomorrow.
Access to the new services is expected to be free.
"Today's announcement that we are providing free WiFi on trains means people can more easily work and keep up with friends while on journeys,” said Minister Baroness Kramer.
"As well as steps we have already taken to make train travel as affordable and efficient as possible, we hope free WiFi will encourage even more people to make the greener choice and travel by train."
However, the RMT union representatives were less impressed with the plan.
"The public need to be aware of the brutal fact that the... performance fine expected to be levied on Network Rail this week will come straight out of safety critical maintenance and renewals budgets and diverted into the pockets of the greedy private train companies to finance WiFi services on their trains,” said the union’s Acting General Secretary Mick Cash.
"Safety and reliability on the tracks will be compromised with the rip-off train companies once again getting a free ride. This is a total con trick instigated by the Government that will come back to haunt the travelling public."