East Coast Main Line's wireless washout

East Coast Main Line's wireless washout

Summary: East Coast Main Line - the renationalised GNER service between London and Scotland via York and Newcastle - has good and bad points. Despite dilapidated carriages, cramped seating and prices that are on a par (to be generous) with flying, it remains a civilised and at times beautiful way to rattle to Edinburgh and back.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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East Coast Main Line - the renationalised GNER service between London and Scotland via York and Newcastle - has good and bad points. Despite dilapidated carriages, cramped seating and prices that are on a par (to be generous) with flying, it remains a civilised and at times beautiful way to rattle to Edinburgh and back.

One of its key advantages over flying is that it has wi-fi. It's not terribly good wi-fi; it started off OK, but has deteriorated since. Regular users (guilty) have the help desk number on speed dial - a help desk, by the way, that deserves a prize for courtesy and effectiveness. But it's noticeable that many people have started to use their own dongles.

So it needs to be improved. And it is - a new and better service is promised, with new modems and antennas making it faster and more reliable. And they're going to charge you and me a tenner for the privilege - well, a fiver an hour or a ten quid for 24.

Which means that one weekend return to Edinburgh will cost me the same for data as my month's 3G phone bill for all services.

I'm not sure what East Coast hopes to achieve by this. Perhaps they want us all to use our own phones and data cards. Perhaps, by dissuading us from using the wi-fi, they hope we'll all take the plane instead - an hour without network connectivity is better than five, after all. Or perhaps they haven't really improved the service, but hope that by stopping everyone but first class passengers (who'll get it free) from using it, it'll seem like an upgrade. Perhaps they think that since us lower class lot are already paying up to £180 for a return ticket, we won't mind making it up to a nice round £200.

I know what East Coast has achieved, though. They've really, really made that five hour train journey seem a lot less attractive.

Way to go.

Topic: Emerging Tech

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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6 comments
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  • At least you have the option of paying for wifi, the Southeastern Highspeed service from north Kent to London doesn't have a whiff of wifi, not a snifter even....
    Jake Rayson
  • > new modems and antennas

    "Antennas?" /Antennas?/

    /O tempora, o mores!/
    liamproven
  • It's antennas for radio gear, antennae for those parts of an insect (go on, look it up) - if you want to get seriously picky. But I tend to use antennas for both, on the grounds that we speak English, not Latin.
    rupert.goodwins@...
  • Not like Liam to be picky... :)

    But seriously, try London to the south coast. Last time I tried the Wifi it was the same price as a standard BT daily hotspot. That is: not cheap. and I think it's only available on one train - at least I've not seen it recently...
    Manek Dubash
  • Some of us get to use BT hotspots free as part of our broadband deals ;-)
    Jack Schofield
  • With you on this one. I commute daily from Grantham to London. The free wifi enabled me to work on the train, answer e-mails, update googledocs etc. Now I can't. And at nearly £7K for a yearly season ticket, is it too much to expect free wifi?

    matt
    Mattzki