Broadband for East Country Trains
East Midlands Trains have already announced its plans for increasing broadband the availability of this at the stations that it runs. The company is launching a £10m scheme to fit free wi-fi hotspots at 40 main line stations and that this work should be completed by the end of the year. The Customer Services and Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains, Neil Micklewaite, explained that the intention is to complement the on-board wi-fi that was installed on the London bound trains three years ago. He commented “This will further enhance the travel experience of our passengers giving them more options for entertainment or work when travelling with us”.
East Midlands Trains has already named the first 11 stations – Alfreton, Boston, Chesterfield, Derby, Hinckley, Long Eaton, Melton Mowbray, Narborough, Sheffield, Skegness and Sleaford which serve approximately 15 million passengers. The remaining 29 stations should be added to the service this autumn.
The aim for East Midlands Trains is to offer free connectivity to all its customers both at stations and on its trains along the entirety of its mainline route.
Vince Russell, Managing Director, of The Cloud, East Midlands Trains’ partner in this venture has said “Our service provides passengers with fast, free internet access allied with unique engaging content”.
Staying in the eastern part of the country East Coast Trains has also announced a £2.2m upgrade of the on-board service on 44 of its trains. East Coast Trains has stated that the aim is to achieve “a more reliable internet connection for every user, every time” by investing in the replacement of new access points by installing industry leading hardware and on-line servers.
10 years ago East Coast Trains became the first UK train company to offer wi-fi on moving trains but admits that customers’ expectations as to the quality of service has changed.
Peter Williams, East Coast Trains’, Commercial and Customer Service Director has said “It’s vital that our system keeps up with rapidly rising demand from passengers, starting with a more reliable connection into the system from the moment their journey with us begins”. He also said that wi-fi availability was one of the “key reasons” that people travelled on the East Coast Trains’ rather than flying or driving.
The upgrades will begin next year thereby making East Coast Trains’ customers amongst the first to benefit from Network Rail’s impending rollout of high speed mobile broadband.
What is interesting is that East Coast Trains is at the forefront of this bearing in mind that the company is currently state owned.
On a final note the Department of Transport announced at the beginning of the month that approximately 70% of train passengers should be able to access faster internet connections by 2019. That’s another five years away.
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