Thursday 9th September, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
ExCeL London - 30 Sep - 01 Oct 2021
18 October 2021 - Virtual
Around £90 million is to be spent on free and faster wifi for rail commuters on some of the UK’s busiest routes, ministers have confirmed.
Part of the funding will come from the record fine being imposed this week on Network Rail for poor punctuality.
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today (July 7) fined the rail operator £53.1 million for “shortfalls in performance”.
It is also being punished for missing key punctuality targets on its long-distance services over five years.
Passengers will have access to wifi speeds at least 10 times faster than facilities currently available.
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 in 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.
"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," said the company's chief executive Mark Carne.
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.