Travellers using GNER's East Coast route can now take advantage of broadband internet access as wireless web trials begin throughout the company's first class cabins today.
GNER is the first train company to trial wireless broadband services in the UK. A host of other operators and wireless experts have announced partnerships, including Virgin Trains, but GNER is the first to offer the system to the public. It hopes its wireless technologies will help it win back those customers who have ditched trains in favour of cheap flights.
The pilot scheme, which will run for three months, will enable users to surf the net via a wireless-enabled laptop or PDA on journeys between London's Kings Cross and Scotland.
"Offering wireless internet access on the move makes the time you spend travelling by train even more productive," said GNER's press statement.
But the service, although free of charge, is limited to 42 trips in total and to one first class carriage.
Carriages will be fitted with satellite dishes, which will access a combination of available networks as the train passes them. Connection speeds will therefore vary depending on what buildings and other structures obscure the signal along the way. To ensure a service is maintained throughout the whole of the journey — even when going through tunnels, for example — GNER will back the system up with a series of 4-6 mobile phone links.
If the trial is successful, GNER plans to roll out wireless connections on 40 trains in its fleet.