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UK commuter trains to get free high-speed WiFi thanks to £90m funding

But the RMT is not happy about it
Mon Jul 07 2014, 10:24

UK COMMUTER TRAINS, or at least some of them, will soon offer passengers access to WiFi "10 times faster than that currently available" for free.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has told The INQUIRER that some of the UK's business commuter trains will be kitted out with the high-speed WiFi, a scheme expected to cost around £90m. A proportion of this cost will be funded by the government from a record-breaking fine being handed to Network Rail this week, due to the service's poor punctuality.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said, "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. Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they'll get."

Although full details are yet to be announced, it's likely that commuters on routes into London from Bedford, Brighton, Kent and Portsmouth, as well as services into Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, are among those likely to benefit, and these speedier WiFi connections are expected to be available from 2017 or 2018.

While this news likely will be welcomed by commuters, it hasn't gone down especially well with the RMT union, which has been quick to criticise the plans.

The union's acting general secretary Mike Cash said to The Guardian, "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."

"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." µ


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