Train passengers could lose access to the free WiFi for cost reasons
Rain passengers may lose access to free WiFi due to austerity measures.
The Department for Transport (DfT), which controls the finances of most operators in England, said it was looking into whether the service “offered the best possible value for money”.
Most British Railways trains offer free WiFi, allowing people to connect their electronic devices to the internet without having to pay for data.
Our railways are currently not financially viable
However, the DfT cited a survey by passenger regulator Transport Focus, which found that this is a lower priority for travelers than value for money, reliability, punctuality and personal safety.
The railway historian Christian Wolmar reported for the first time on the review of WLAN access in his podcast “Calling All Stations”.
Mr Wolmar said: “This makes me quite angry because we are trying to get people to use the train.
“We are trying to lure commuters back there.
“What do people like to do on trains? They like to get out their laptops and phones and do some email or whatever other chores they need to get done.
“If they can’t do that reliably by train, they might consider using their car.”
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent regulator Transport Focus, said: “Access to WiFi is something that many passengers have come to expect as standard.” It helps people use their travel time productively and could encourage more people to take the train rather than others to use means of transport.
“Given the need to get more passengers back on the train after the pandemic, it would be difficult to justify removing something that makes the train more attractive to customers.”
A DfT spokeswoman said: “Our railways are currently financially unsustainable and it is unfair to continue charging the taxpayer, so reform of all aspects of the railways is imperative.”
“Passenger surveys show again and again that WiFi on trains is at the bottom of their list of priorities. So it’s only right that we work with operators to see if the current service offers the best possible value for money.”
The DfT said that on short-haul routes, many passengers would prefer to use their phones without connecting to the onboard Wi-Fi.
It added that the continued deployment of Wi-Fi on many trains would require replacement or upgrading of the equipment installed in 2015.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/department-for-transport-christian-wolmar-england-transport-focus-b1082861.html Train passengers could lose access to the free WiFi for cost reasons