Broadband News

Better Wi-Fi on trains starts to creep out of the siding

How much improved Wi-Fi would £90m buy on the busiest commuter train routes in the UK? Probably not enough to do a good job on the 30% of the UK rail network that apparently carries 70% of the passengers.

The BBC appears to have found out that a fine levied on Network Rail is to be used to part fund a £90m scheme to improve broadband connectivity for commuters. We thought we had seen something about this before and yes back in September 2013 a programme was announced that would be done in stages running until 2019.

It seems unlikely that this is a totally unrelated project, but it may be, since fixed line broadband via the various Superfast Broadband projects suffers from overlapping targets and deadlines. Given the increasing prominence of video streaming in adverts by mobile providers and the appetite of the public for video streaming the task of getting sufficient bandwidth to a moving train full of commuters will be challenging, unless like many other Wi-Fi schemes they become only good for slowly checking email at busy times.


I rather think that £90m would be better spent on improving the basic rail service than subsidising mobile network usage. Or maybe the authorities think that if people are busy playing on-line games they are less likely to notice the train is running late...

  • TheEulerID
  • over 6 years ago

Never mind commuter routes, First Great Western doesn't offer any wifi service at all on their High Speed Trains (HST/125) running on long distance routes!

  • speedyrite
  • over 6 years ago

I'd certainly agree that (from a productivity point of view) long distance is more important that commuter as there's precious little opportunity to work on the latter due to general cramped conditions.

  • TheEulerID
  • over 6 years ago

Better Wi-Fi on trains won't make me get them. They don't go where I need, run at times I need or cost less than taking the car.

I can't help but think that as the networks start deploying widespread 4G @ 800MHz coverage will be good enough without having to rely on on-board Wi-Fi.

  • timmay
  • over 6 years ago

This would be great - the current ECML WiFi is 4 x 3G cards split between the entire train and it's way faster to just tether my own phone.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 6 years ago


I totally agree. Then again I'm from an age where we just looked out of the window on a train journey, or had a real conversation. All rail users will end up paying for it one way or another, so a shame for those who don't 'need' or want it.

  • joe_pineapples
  • over 6 years ago


Your comment - "from an age where we just looked out of the window on a train" - immediately made me think of this

  • fusen
  • over 6 years ago

Hope that any national wifi for the rail network will mean they stop charging silly prices to access a snails pace service. I paid once, never again. Cost me more for wifi than my ticket!

  • tmcr
  • over 6 years ago

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