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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Wi-fi may tempt train travellers
Train and travellers at Victoria Station, BBC
Business travellers like the idea of wi-fi on trains
Wireless net access could tempt many more people into using the train.

A survey found that 72% of business travellers asked said onboard wi-fi web access would make them more likely to choose trains over cars or planes.

It also found that the longer the journey that people took, the more interested they became in using web access on trains to get some work done.

Passengers on the longest journeys said they would be willing to pay up to 12 per trip for an internet connection.

Train surfing

The survey found that 78% of the business travellers it asked said they would use wi-fi if it became available in carriages.

"This puts bums on seats," said Magnus McEwen-King, head of Broadreach that commissioned the survey. "It gets them off the road and out of the skies and on trains and that's good for everyone."

GNER train carriage, BBC
GNER is running its own wi-fi trials
Mr McEwen-King said both business travellers and commuters would be interested in using wireless services on trains.

Already more than 50% of business train users carry a laptop or another web-capable device with them when travelling.

The survey found that 80% of business travellers already work during train journeys but most of it involves paperwork or making phone calls.

Of those questioned 52% said having wi-fi net access would make this time more productive.

Some already use the web on trains via mobile phone technologies such as GSM and GPRS.

But the survey found that if travellers could use wi-fi time spent online was likely to increase by one-third and the number of potential users could grow 13 times.

Those questioned were divided over how to pay for the service. Some preferred to have the cost bundled in with their ticket, others preferred it added to their monthly net access bill. Another group wanted to use vouchers.

Mr McEwen-King said Broadreach was working with five firms that run trains in the UK and was aiming to have wi-fi installed on more than 700 trains within the next four years.

Two commercial trials of the service on long distance routes are planned for later this year. Commuter routes will follow later.

"We believe that the connected carriage has arrived and will be leaving from a platform shortly," said McEwen-King.

The survey was carried out in March and April of 2004 and more than 1,600 people were questioned.

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