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The rail industry is to roll out high-speed mobile broadband across the busiest sections of the UK’s train network over the next few years.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the plan to improve broadband access on the nation’s trains during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Under the proposals, the government says that 70 per cent of train passengers will eventually benefit from the new technology by 2019, with the first improvements due to be introduced in 2015.
The new scheme will concentrate on improving connectivity along stretches of track which have intermittent or poor mobile phone signal.
McLoughlin said: “There are few things more frustrating than trying to phone a friend or access the internet, only to be thwarted by bad signal.
“Passengers deserve to have the best mobile technology and that is why I am pleased that industry is coming together to make that a reality.
“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the end of poor coverage on our railways.”
The government said that mobile signals will be improved through an upgrade of Network Rail’s existing infrastructure and the installation of equipment that “alleviates the barriers to good signal on board a train”.
Network Rail and the train operators will now start developing a business case on how to fund these improvements.
Concur's Isabel Montesdeoca welcomed the announcement because of the potential benefits for business travellers.
“According to a recent You Gov study commissioned by Concur, over three quarters of UK business travellers complain of ‘unproductive moments’ while on the move," added Montesdeoca, who is Concur's general manager in Europe.
"The prospect of high-speed internet on a train that is faster than the connection in most of our own living rooms is a great way of fixing the problem, and ensuring road warriors can stay on top of things back at the office while on the road.”