The Scottish Government has invested £2 million in ScotRail for free Wi-Fi access in their express trains by the end of 2013.
Major routes include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Stirling as well as areas in Inverness and Fife. These routes will be carried out by 170 trains, all covered by the Wi-Fi service.
Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “More journeys are made on our class 170s than any of our [other] trains, so it makes sense to begin the roll-out on this fleet.”
Dani Cardon, media officer of ScotRail, says that the implementation will take a few months to be completed: “We’re rolling out Wi-Fi on our 170 trains at a rate of 5 to 6 each month. That will take place from March until December 2013.”
However, no line will be prioritised and the installation will happen gradually. Mr Cardon says, “It won’t be one line at a time. We install Wi-Fi on particular trains which will run across all routes.”
A pilot project was set up on 4 trains before the intended roll-out, stating that 77% of users were satisfied with the speed and performance of the Wi-Fi service provided.
Transport Minister Keith Brown is confident about the planned changes, “We have an absolute commitment to bringing better connectivity to every corner of Scotland, and I have been highly encouraged by the success of ScotRail pilot scheme.”
Despite the good intentions, there will be challenges concerning the signal. Mr Cardon states: “We can only enhance Wi-Fi when there is already a signal there. Although, there will be good connections overall, there will be remote areas which won’t have a good connection.”
“But that’s improving all across Scotland as much as phone signal is.”
The fitting of the 170 trains will take place during weekends scheduled particularly for maintenance in order to guarantee usual railway service isn’t disrupted.