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Rail Minister, Claire Perry has announced that train passengers across England and Wales will benefit from free Wi-Fi from 2017.
Train operators are being asked to set out how they will meet the commitment to provide this service to passengers. All train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to include this specification in their bid.
The Department for Transport will release almost £50 million in funding for areas where no new franchise agreement is due in the next two years.
The sum is from money that Network Rail has been required to return to the government for missing punctuality targets set by the Office of Rail Regulation. It is the first time such money has been reinvested into improvements targeted at passengers.
Perry said: “I am determined to improve journeys for rail passengers. Free Wi-Fi is a priority for many as being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make rail travel more productive.
“We are investing record amounts in the rail network as part of our long-term economic plan, and this investment, coupled with major works such as the Thameslink programme, new Intercity Express trains and the Northern Hub, will ensure that passengers will soon have a railway fit for the 21st century.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “As someone who regularly travels from the north of Scotland around the country, I appreciate the value of fast, cheap internet connections on trains for both leisure and business travellers.
“That’s why the government is earmarking around £50 million to provide free Wi-Fi on trains; this and our other franchising improvements mean that nearly three-quarters of rail journeys will be made on trains with Wi-Fi provision.”