Opinions on paid Wi-Fi on public transport?

Forgive me for perhaps being a tad unreasonable here, but I bought an £80 train ticket from the Midlands to Wales, only to find out that this train service has Wi-Fi that expects me to pay £2 an hour, per device.

Granted, this isn’t expensive, but how can small bus companies in my locality offer free Wi-Fi but this fairly popular train service can’t? In my opinion, it’s 2018, there should be Wi-Fi as a STANDARD on mainline/high-speed rail services?

What are your opinions? Am I rightfully inclined to moan, or am I being unreasonable?

(Yes, I know it’s a ‘first-world problem’ before you mention it :rofl:)


I find that if I sit close enough to the 1st Class cabin, I can often leech the free 1st Class WiFi :joy: (YMMV)

I think the fee should be dropped - though I rarely find myself needing WiFi onboard a train, 80% of the time I have a strong 4G signal and all I tend to do on a train is watch movies or listen to music - both of which I ensure to download before a journey :grin:

Did you book directly with the tran company, or through a third party? Sometimes when you book directly they’ll throw a free wifi code in with your booking. But book through a third party and you get nada.

If you think trains are bad you should see how much wifi costs on cruise ships…

It was direct with the train company, I think they just enjoy ripping people off in all honesty!

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Ah, sounds about right. I realise I didn’t actually answer your question in my first reply, so just to be clear, I think this is a perfectly valid moan you have here.

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I think you’re entitled to be unhappy about it but I guess ultimately it’s supply and demand :thinking:

Personally, I don’t use the on-board Wi-Fi whether it’s free or not as the signal is provided via 4G so I just use the 4G on my phone instead. That way the connection is only to my device as opposed to being shared with numerous people.

Also, with Wi-Fi on trains it can’t be used to stream media, whereas on my phones 4G connection I can :clap:


Free fast WiFi in hotels and public transport should really be commonplace nowdays, agreed. Even having paid for WiFi on a train once it was unusable anyway lol.


I always find that the wifi on trains is no better than my phone signal, usually. If anything, the wifi is slower due to number of people using it.


Perfectly legitimate moan, if you ask me. Wi-fi should be plentiful and free on transport, if you ask me.


Everybody loves free stuff but, for me, I don’t think we have any right to it.

I see charging in this scenario as some form of load management that should hopefully make the installation useable for those who are prepared to pay. Trying to pipe a train load of WiFi down a 4G signal is never going to be a pleasant experience, without some form of demand management it would surely be next to useless?


I’ve found paid WiFi to be just as bad as free WiFi in the past (premier inn).

When I’ve traveled first class on GWR I was surprised to find out you still had to pay extra for the WiFi.


Check out Mr First Class over here! :wink:


:joy: it was £1 more than a standard fare so it would have been silly not to upgrade :raised_hands:t3:. Normally it’s a fair bit more.


Very true, but all the more reason it should be free. In all fairness, it’s a 4 hour train ride, I just didn’t want to burn through all my data on my mobile, as I’ll be working on the train so will need my laptop hooked up to it too. But valid points, it may be worth using my data?

Very valid point, but I feel as though there isn’t loads of demand for it (as the previous comments tend to suggest) - I like it from a convenience point of view, like I said, if I’ve got my laptop tethered to my phone using data, then my mobile data is going to plummet.

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I wouldn’t mind paying extra if the WiFi was actually good (I know it’s 4G/LTE but they can do smart stuff like aggregating multiple links from different carriers), but given it’s a single 4G connection shared across the entire train it’s at best just as good as my phone but it’s often worse.


The train WiFi uses multiple network operators, though, so the more modern systems often provide better signal coverage than you will get with your phone (also the placement of the antennas is better, as the signal your phone gets is often attenuated inside the carriage).

@Ben01, I agree with you, it should be free on all trains. The train companies (especially the long distance ones) make a point out of the fact you can work on a train, but that really requires WiFi for a laptop. I assume you were on Virgin. I think the problem is that the ‘old’ franchises didn’t have a WiFi requirement, and both Virgin and GWR have had several franchise extensions, instead of the thing being re-let.

Pretty much everywhere else on the rail network, when the franchises have been re-let, free WiFi has been a requirement for all bidders. I don’t know why the DfT didn’t make free WiFi a condition of the contract extensions for GWR and Virgin, but they’ve managed to bollocks up loads of things with the rail network, so not too surprising.

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This is what they do :point_up:

This is not what they do! :x:

[Edit: but there can be hundreds of people on a train, so that doesn’t mean it will necessarily feel fast. I think there are plans for Network Rail to upgrade all trackside data capacity to allow much better WiFi in the future, but have no idea about timescales or specifics.]


Something that actually works reliably and just as good as 4G on a mobile would be worth paying for. The problem is, is that I know it’s going to be rubbish, yet they still make you pay for it. AND they won’t offer a 15 minute trial period (but I guess that opens it up to exploitation from people using VPNs).

Close - it’s Cross Country, managed by Arriva I believe. The problem is with this, they’ve been banging on about how they want to offer free Wi-Fi to customers, they even have a page dedicated to it on their website. But, this has been up for a year now with absolutely no progress. It’s rubbish.

I think the Conservatives in 2015 mentioned that all rail networks should have free Wi-Fi by 2017, yet this far from the case. I get that it requires infrastructure investment, so it’s not easy. And I accept that on rural services (like my train to and from work) that Wi-Fi is not a necessity, but on ‘long-haul’ services, it should definitely be offered to paying customers!

EDIT: By paying customers I mean those who are buying tickets.

Yeah, it is. CrossCountry really should have free WiFi, especially given the length of some of the journeys. I’d forgotten about them. Just bad luck that the existing franchise was let before WiFi requirements came in, and it’s not run out yet. The even worse news is that there was supposed to be a new CrossCountry franchise awarded next year (which would have almost certainly have required free WiFi), but remember what I said about the DfT fucking things up all the time?

It will be another franchise extension. If this is a route you use regularly, it might be worth writing to your MP expressing that free WiFi should be a requirement of any extension, but the chances of this happening :man_shrugging:

Though these are sometimes the routes where phone signal is patchy (at least here in Scotland) and the more advanced 4G the train system has can be the only way of getting a network connection.


Sounds like DfT are making a hash of that. Great :roll_eyes:

Luckily, this particular journey is not a common route (probably once every two months). My commute is via East Midlands Trains who, to be fair to them, admit that they don’t offer Wi-Fi on the majority of their trains. I admire that standpoint a lot more than making customers pay for Wi-Fi that doesnt work!

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