Rail pilot scheme

Commuters will benefit from new digital connection technology bringing wi-fi service to Scotland’s trains.

Transport Minister Keith Brown has awarded a £250,000 contract to ScotRail to carry out a pilot scheme, which will include trains running between the central belt, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The move is the first step towards the Scottish Government’s long term aspiration to roll out wi-fi throughout Scotland, allowing passengers online access during their journey.

In addition, it is interended that the next rail franchise will require passengers access to the internet, emails, media and voice communication for rail passengers travelling between Edinburgh, Glasgow and from the central belt to Aberdeen and Inverness.

Mr Brown announced the contract award at the Local Authority Transport Conference in Edinburgh today.

He said:

“One of the challenges forever facing transport is how to embrace constantly-evolving technologies and the demands of passengers to get on with their ever more busy lives while travelling.

“The Scottish Government is committed to forward-looking schemes which put this country at the forefront of new technologies.

“We have promised to do all we can to bring the internet to every corner of Scotland and that includes allowing people to get online when they’re going about their daily business, be that commuting to or from work or travelling socially.

“The Rail2014 consultation set out our stall with a vow to bring full wi-fi connection to train journeys and this pilot gets that underway.

“This scheme shows how we are leading the way with investment in making Scotland a progressive nation.”

The first stage of this project will see First ScotRail equip four trains from the Class 170 fleet with wi-fi enabling equipment, so that passengers on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk service can trial this facility.

Steve Montogomery, managing director of ScotRail said:

“This is a welcome first step to explore methods to improve connectivity on trains. We will be reporting our findings to Transport Scotland in the autumn.”

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Wi-fi connectivity is essential to do doing business in the 21st century and its introduction to our trains is vital to making public transport a productive business experience. In addition, it recognises the fact that most tourists visiting our country expect to be able to access information on our country through their phones, tablet devices and notebooks.”