Free train wi-fi for UK passengers

Free wi-fi will be installed on all trains under government plans from 2017 to get the network rail out of the “analogue age”.

Over the next two years, almost £50m will be spent improving communications on trains to allow passengers to stay connected and work online across England and Wales, announced the Department for Transport on Wednesday.

“I am determined to improve journeys for rail passengers. Free wi-fi is a priority for many as being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make rail travel more productive,” Transport Minister Claire Perry said in a statement.

It will be funded through Network Rail fines for missing punctuality targets set by the Office of Rail Regulation, the first time they have been directly invested in passenger improvements.

David Cameron was asked about improving communications by former Tory cabinet minister Maria Miller, who claimed "our trains are stuck in the analogue age" at PMQs.

Train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to include the wi-fi requirement in their bid and money will be given to the operators that put forward satisfactory proposals, the DoT said.

“As someone who regularly travels from the north of Scotland around the country, I appreciate the value of fast, cheap internet connections on trains for both leisure and business travellers,” Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said.

Operators TSGN, Southeastern, Chiltern, and Arriva Trains Wales are expected to set-up wi-fi on trains as soon as possible.

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