GNER on track for wireless broadband

The train operator will provide passengers with high-speed Internet on selected services

Train operator GNER is planning a groundbreaking on-board wireless broadband access service for passengers using its east coast line.

GNER is looking to enable a fleet of up to 40 high-speed trains with high-speed Internet access on its London Kings Cross to Aberdeen and Inverness route.

With the rail industry still struggling after the Hatfield rail disaster, operators are desperate to offer unique services that will lure back passengers, especially the high-value business customers.

GNER is planning a major announcement about the service next week. A spokesman told that the commercial details are still in development, but the plan is to offer wireless broadband access -- at a minimum speed of 500kbps -- for travellers with Wi-Fi enabled laptops and handheld devices.

He said: "We would be the first UK train operator to offer this facility where business people can have a more productive time on the train. We are looking at transforming the UK travel market."

The train operator is looking for one contractor, which can demonstrate a fully deployed and working commercial solution on a European railway, to provide the service. The contract will be for three years and work is set to begin in October.

Internet access on the move is now seen as a must-have service for time-squeezed road warriors, and the airline industry is also due to launch services next year based on the Connexion technology in planes from Boeing. British Airways and Lufthansa are two airlines currently running pilots of the service, which they will offer to passengers.