Wi-Fi Penetration Growing On Trains
Our desire for internet connectivity to be available any time any place is dramatically on the increase. But not only do we want to be able to be connected 24/7, we expect a good quality reliable service too, no matter our location.
Walk into most social establishments such as bars, pubs and cafés and you will find Wi-Fi available, in many instances for free, but there are still some instances where Wi-Fi is not so easily available or for free, such as on trains.
Hundreds of thousands of people use the UK rail network on a daily basis, whether commuting to work or travelling for leisure, journey times can vary considerably, but regardless of whether a train journey is 10 minutes or 3 hours, for most one thing doesn’t change, the need to access the internet.
Wi-Fi availability on the UK’s rail network varies considerably, as does the cost, some operators have it and others don’t, and few offer it for free. But taking the positives, Wi-Fi availability is starting to become more widespread which is great news for all passengers especially those business travellers wishing to work whilst they travel to get the most out of their journey.
Today passengers travelling on the likes of Virgin Trains, East Midlands Trains, East Coast Trains, Grand Central Trains and Heathrow Express can access Wi-Fi. Virgin and East Midlands Trains provide the service for free for first class passengers but there’s a fee to pay for those travelling in standard class. There are various usage packages available with both operators which vary from as little as 1 hour’s usage for £4 to 30 days usage for £30, to an annual pass costing £299 for those travelling very regularly.
Grand Central Trains and Heathrow Express offer a free Wi-Fi service and East Coast Trains offer the first 15 minutes for free, any further usage needs to be paid for. It’s worth checking the individual operator’s websites for a more detailed breakdown on their individual fee structures.
Passengers in Scotland travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh can take advantage of a current Wi-Fi trial running for 3 months between June and September 2012. The Wi-Fi service during this trial is free for all passengers to use regardless of class of travel. The idea is for the operator to garner user’s feedback of the Wi-Fi service to determine the technology’s reliability and suitability. Given that trains travel through vast rural areas it is important to ensure connectivity can be maintained.
Eurostar have also just announced their plans to launch a Wi-Fi service in early 2013, following requests received for quite some time from business passengers, Eurostar are finally committing to a project where all of their trains will have Wi-Fi installed; this is part of a wider fleet refurbishment programme beginning in September 2012.
Whilst the number of rail companies offering Wi-Fi is still limited, this is constantly changing, and given the demand it’s only a matter of time before Wi-Fi on trains is as common as it is in our bars and cafés.