Investment comes from Network Rail penalty
The Government is providing £47.8 million of funding to four operators towards the provision of free Wi-Fi on ‘selected services’ from 2017.
Rail Minister Claire Perry also announced that ‘all train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to include this specification [free Wi-Fi] in their bid’.
On the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN), Southeastern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales franchises, where there is no new franchise agreement due in the next two years, funding from the Department of Transport will be provided ‘to ensure Wi-Fi is available on selected services from 2017’, subject to satisfactory proposals from the operators. The government said it is ‘targeting the investment at franchises that would otherwise have no immediate plans to introduce Wi-Fi’.
Details of which routes this covers are not specified, but the Government says that ‘operators will now work with the department to develop detailed proposals identifying the most appropriate services and routes to benefit’.
The funding comes from a £53.1 million penalty paid by Network Rail to the government for missing punctuality targets set by the Office of Rail Regulation. The remaining £5.3 million of this amount has been awarded to the Scottish government.