ScotRail has launched free wireless internet on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is part of a new £250,000 pilot that will allow passengers to access wi-fi on one in every ten journeys, giving them faster access to social media sites, email and the internet in general. ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery says that passengers should look for the wi-fi sign on train doors and windows – especially on the Edinburgh-Glasgow route. The feedback they get will be very important in shaping the next move for improving wi-fi connectivity on their trains, he added.
The trail is set to last for three months on the commuter route that connects Queen Street station and Waverley Station via Falkirk High. Transport Minister Kieth Brown was one of the first passengers to connect to the free wi-fi at Glasgow Queen Street station after boarding a ScotRail train bound for Edinburgh. Four of the company’s Edinburgh-bound trains will be connected to the new system. If the free wi-fi pilot is a success, the service will be made available on a permanent basis. MSPs are hoping to see the technology rolled on trains across the UK, and this is the first step towards the government’s long-term goal of introducing it.
Brown said that he’s thrilled to kick off the trial, which will play a huge role in ensuring future connectivity across the Scottish transport network. A major test for transport operators is how to make sure new technologies are embraced to allow travellers to continue their busy lives while on the go. Businesses have been clear that wi-fi access on commuter services will boost competitiveness in the country, and this trial is the first step in providing that. They aim to bring the internet to every corner of Scotland, which includes making sure people can access it even when they are travelling – whether they are commuting or travelling socially.
The move has been welcomed by business leaders, who insist that the service will encourage more commuters to use the rails. Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron says one of the main attractions of trains over roads for many business travellers is the perceived ability to work effectively while on the go. This means that businesspeople now expect to conduct phone calls, access wireless data networks, and have a suitable and comfortable work environment. This trial is a vital first step in providing the kind of connectivity that businesses need in Scotland, and they look forward to extending it to other routes as soon as they can.
The free wi-fi trial has been launched ahead of Brown’s statement to the Scottish Parliament this week about the future of rail services in the country. The current contract ScotRail has for rail passenger services, as well as the funding arrangements for Network Rail in the country, are due to end in 2014. New arrangements need to be put in place. Brown says the Rail2014 consultation promises to bring full wi-fi connection to train services, and this pilot gets this underway. This will help make rail travel more attractive for many and drive up passenger numbers – which is a big priority for the government, he added.
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