Record Network Rail fine to fund free train wifi

7 Jul 2014 by GrahamSmith

Commuter trains across England and Wales will soon come equipped with faster and free wifi, after the government earmarked £90 million for the upgrade.

Over half the funding will come from the record £53.1 million fine the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today imposed on Network Rail for poor punctuality.

Passengers will have access to wifi speeds at least ten times faster than facilities currently available, it is claimed.

Commuters on routes into London from Bedford, Brighton, Kent and Portsmouth as well as services into Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are among those likely to benefit.

The service is expected to become available within three or four years.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We all know how frustrating it can be to have our phone calls and internet use constantly disrupted by poor signal while travelling on trains.

"At the moment it happens too often. Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they'll get."

Network Rail said punctuality had declined recently to cope with an increase in demand.

Chief executive Mark Carne said: "We accept that we have fallen short of the regulatory targets for train punctuality and that this is, in part, down to our failure to reduce infrastructure faults quickly enough."

Around 87 per cent of Network Rail's trains ran on time in 2013-14, against a target of 92 per cent.

The previous highest fine imposed by the regulator was £14 million for late engineering works in 2008.

Graham Smith

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