To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will support the increase of infrastructure for onboard wifi along the West Coast rail line.
11 January 2016
We recognise intermittent internet access is a frustration felt by many rail passengers. I have met with Virgin Trains to discuss their ambitions to improve internet connectivity on both West Coast and East Coast main lines. I recognise that this is an important issue for West Coast passengers and that we need to find a solution where all passengers can benefit.
Free Wi-Fi is being introduced on all Department for Transport-controlled rail franchises in England and Wales. All train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to present a phased implementation plan for free Wi-Fi. The West Coast franchise is being tendered this year with the new contract commencing in 2018, which will include this obligation.
On-train Wi-Fi addresses some of the issues, however we recognise that there is more to do that will require enhancements to trackside infrastructure. That’s why we are working with the rail and telecommunications industries to reach a shared understanding of the technical and commercial challenges, and seek out potential solutions.