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UPDATE Network Rail Fine to Help Improve FREE WiFi on UK Train Routes

Monday, Jul 7th, 2014 (7:47 am) - Score 693

In an odd twist the Government’s Department for Transport has said that a multi-million pound fine, which is being imposed upon state-owned Network Rail for missing performance targets (the penalty could be worth up to £70m), will be used to help fund a £90m investment into rolling out free superfast wifi Internet access on the busiest train routes.

The 3-4 year deployment period suggests that this is probably linked to last year’s news about Network Rails £1.9bn telecoms infrastructure upgrade, which among other things saw the DfT announce plans to make a new generation of “high speed” (i.e. Internet speeds of up to 50Mbps) Mobile Broadband and WiFi services available to 70% of train commuters by 2019 (here).

Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary, 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.”

The fine, which will probably be less than the widely reported figure of £70 million, is due to be announced today. We live in an usual world where the Government effectively fines one of its own organisations and then uses the money to improve a different part of the same organisation, while also promoting it all as an improvement.

UPDATE 12:55pm

As expected Office for Rail Regulations (ORR) has fined Network Rail £53.1m, which must now be returned to “funders” and used to “improve the resilience of the network“. The organisation originally committed to deliver average punctuality levels of 92% in the sector in 2013-14 and was funded to do so, but they fell “significantly short” of this target in delivering 86.9%.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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