Department for Transport’s plans to withdraw WiFi on trains are a backward step

The Department for Transport have apparently told the train operators that they should cease offering wifi if they “cannot justify it financially”.

This is a backward step. As the Chief Executive of Transport Focus has said: “Access to wifi is something many passengers now expect as standard. It helps people use their travel time productively and is something which could encourage more people to use rail over other modes.”

Indeed less than six years ago the DfT were saying that on-board wifi was a key part of the future of rail travel:

Across the UK, this Government is investing at
record levels to improve the experience for rail
passengers. State-of-the-art infrastructure, new
and longer trains, smart ticketing, improved
information and updated Wi-Fi are all contributing
towards a modern, 21st century railway that drives
our nation’s economic prosperity. [On the South
Eastern network] passengers will benefit from a step-change in
customer service, with improved smart ticketing
and on-board Wi-Fi.

“Shaping the Future” November 2017

DfT used to recognise that being able to work, and communicate, on rail services is a key selling point of the service.   At a time when they need more people to travel by train to fund the railway they should be making the service more, not less, attractive.

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