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United Kingdom: Free station WiFi to benefit millions of rail passengers

Passengers at Britain’s biggest and busiest railway stations are set to benefit from a fast, free and reliable WiFi service thanks to a significant digital investment announced on 30 September by Network Rail.

A key part of Network Rail’s plans to put passengers first, the new WiFi service will offer seamless connectivity and single sign-on at all Network Rail stations*, automatically connecting passengers to WiFi across Network Rail’s 20-strong station network from Spring 2020, kicking off with London Victoria. The service is child-friendly and can also be used on more than one device.

Free WiFi has been identified by passengers as one of the key improvements that could be made to enhance their station experience, along with free toilets and more seating. With toilets in Britain’s 20 busiest stations now free, and seating being installed across the network, the rail operator is taking significant steps to improve the experience for the 900 million passengers who pass through these stations each year.

Planning for the roll-out of free WiFi is already underway, with Network Rail awarding a contract to telent technology to deliver the scheme. The partnership with telent will ensure the digital infrastructure is future-proof, with a view to providing longer term benefits and commercial opportunities for Network Rail going forward.
Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: “We all have smart phones and tablets now which means that journeys are no longer dead time, so the station experience shouldn’t be either. Our passengers expect seamless connectivity from their train to our stations, to their place of work, and to their homes, so I am pleased that millions of passengers who use our stations will soon have access to free, fast and secure WiFi.

“This investment also supports the Government’s approach to delivering a fully connected rail and transport sector and will help accelerate the development of the digital cities needed in the future.”

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “We are putting passengers at the heart of the railways, delivering the improvements to punctuality, comfort and customer service they expect. Making WiFi fast and free, benefitting millions of people in stations across the country, is part of creating a more modern, better-connected railway which works for passengers.”

Steve Dalton, Managing Director, Transport, at telent, said: “We are delighted to support Network Rail in delivering this important project, with the appointment demonstrating our experience of delivering best-in-class networks in complex environments. We’re installing a fast service that will offer enhanced security on the next generation of mobile devices - the project will greatly enhance the customer experience for today’s tech-savvy passengers who expect always-on connectivity, wherever they are.”

Euston and London Bridge stations already provide free WiFi to passengers following an earlier pilot scheme. WiFi will be phased in to the remaining stations across the country from Spring 2020 and will take around one year to fully deploy.

(Source: Network Rail)

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