October 5, 2010 9.52 am This story is over 159 months old

East Coast cuts on-board free WiFi

Off the rails: In a controversial move, East Coast started charging standard class passengers for WiFi Internet.

East Coast has started charging standard class passengers for WiFi on its London-bound trains, a service which was previously free of charge.

The first 15 minutes will be free, after which passengers have to pay £4.95 per hour, or £9.95 for a full day’s use of on-board WiFi.

First class passengers will still benefit from free WiFi on East Coast trains.

East Coast claims the move, introduced on October 4, will provide customers with “better quality, and more reliable” connections.

The company says it has updated its Internet connection systems with “the latest HSPA and 3G technology,” “with faster upload and download speeds.”

East Coast invested £600,000 in updating aerials and modems on its trains.

Guy Dangerfield, of watchdog Passenger Focus said East Coast’s decision to scrap free WiFi for standard class passengers was “disappointing”.

“East Coast will have to work hard to ensure the WiFi system is more reliable than it’s historically been,” Dangerfield added.

“In a modern society where free WiFi connections are becoming more prevalent, this seems like a giant leap backwards,” said Lincoln MP Karl McCartney.

“Many passengers of all ages enjoy this service as part of their quite costly ticket on the East Coast line.

“This decision to charge for what was previously free, but with no added benefit, will be seen as another attempt by East Coast to raise their income without treating their passengers any better or providing a better service for them.

“If all ticket prices were being reduced and corresponding costs were then imposed for extra services, we at least would understand that East Coast were adopting the EasyJet model of travel provision,” McCartney added.

According to Network Rail figures, East Coast had the least punctual trains in the country in September (85% on time), down 3% from last year.

The company also made headlines earlier this year, when it decided to drop plans for additional direct trains from Lincoln to London.

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