Global Economics

Virgin to Offer Wi-Fi in Trains by 2007


Virgin Trains has announced a planned rollout of onboard wi-fi in all its carriages is to be completed by 2007.

The company's trains currently only offer wi-fi access to passengers in first class. The move follows the lead set by rival train operator GNER.

Business users will be able to continue working while on the move, while other passengers will be able to pass the time by surfing the net.

The system, developed by Nomad Digital, uses wireless base stations with radios located every few miles along rail lines. These will then communicate with trains as they pass by and ensure uninterrupted web access even when trains pass through tunnels.

David Ewart, communications manager for Virgin Trains, said the introduction of wi-fi is part of the company's 'most valuable travel time' campaign, which emphasises the value of productive travel time.

The hope is the initiative will help attract people back to trains away from cheap air travel. According to GNER, 22 per cent of journeys that have shifted from air to rail are a result of wi-fi availability.

When asked why Virgin had taken longer to introduce wi-fi than GNER, Ewart said: "We want to implement the very best system and will only do so once we are completely satisfied with its quality."

Virgin hasn't finalised its pricing for the service.

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