A £90m scheme to deliver faster wi-fi on commuter trains will be part-funded by a fine paid by Network Rail, the publically-owned firm responsible for the upkeep of tracks, signalling and stations across the UK.
The Office of Rail Regulation landed the penalty on the company after it missed key punctuality targets on long-distance services over a five-year period.
Following reported criticism that fining Network Rail would disable its financial ability to improve services, the government has announced money from the fine will be used to improve passenger experience.
Internet speeds are expected to reach up to ten times faster than they currently are for some travellers under the wi-fi improvement programme. It is also expected to be free.
The service is expected to be available within four years. Meanwhile, the necessary equipment is being installed along the busiest lines, instead of relying upon often unreliable satellite signals.
“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,” claimed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
“Passengers expect and deserve better and with these plans, that is what they’ll get,” he added.
Routes into London from Bedford, Brighton, Kent, Portsmouth, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are lines named to be among the first to benefit from the improvements.
The Department for Transport (DfT) estimates £90m will be required to carry out the wi-fi improvements and train operating companies will be invited to bid for a share of the funding.