National Express plans to offer free WiFi service to all passengers, not just first class. GNER completed a $6.5 million installation of Wi-Fi broadband connectivity on all 41 of its east coast trains last year, reports C/Net. GNER charged either $5.96 per half hour or $20.11 for a full day’s use. Now it will be free on National’s East Coast route. They use a server from Swedish company Icomera on the train to provides a 2MB satellite downlink.
The franchise came up for grabs after former holder GNER gave it up last year because its parent, transport group Sea Containers, was in financial difficulties. In March 2005, GNER agreed to pay 1.3 billion pounds to the government for the right to keep running the east coast main line for another 10 years, then the most expensive rail concession in European history.
National Express beat Arriva, FirstGroup and a 50/50 joint venture between Stagecoach Group and Virgin Group for the franchise. National Express also runs 14,000 school buses in North America and has a bus and coach business in Spain. A Conference on Wireless Trains was held last month in London. Icomera, Nomad Digital and 21Net provide train WiFi services.
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