Government promises faster Wi-Fi on trains by 2018

Virgin Pendolino Train

Faster Wi-Fi will be offered on commuter train services, part-funded by National Rail target failings.

In total, 90 million will be invested to improve train Wi-Fi infrastructure, with some of these funds coming from fines imposed by the Office of Rail Regulation on the National Rail after the maintenance company failed to hit punctuality targets on its long-distance services over the last five years.

The Department for Transport has vowed to deliver Wi-Fi speeds 10 times faster than those currently available on some of the country's most-used routes, although train operators will need to pitch for a share of the money.

The government said it will favour the services that are most crowded, representing 30 per cent of the network, used by more than 70 per cent of all rail passengers. The first customers likely to see an improvement will be those travelling on routes into London from Bedford, Brighton, Kent and Portsmouth, as well as services into Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield

Improved services will be completed in three to five years, using equipment installed along the train tracks rather than using a satellite signal as is currently the case. It is also most likely the Wi-Fi will be free to use.

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."

The fines were imposed on the National Rail after it failed to complete rail works on time on routes operated by Cross Country, East Coast, First Hull Trains, First TransPennine Express, Grand Central, Virgin, some First Great Western, East Midlands Trains and Greater Anglia.

Total fines racked up are estimated to be worth 70 million, although it has more recently been revealed the total cost is likely to be less than this after the Office of Rail Regulation dropped some penalties on account of bad weather affecting work.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.