The number of travellers using the onboard Wi-Fi service on the National Express East Coast railway tripled during the first month in which it was free throughout the train.
As part of its aim of making travel simpler, National Express committed to making Wi-Fi free to all customers when it took over the franchise on 9 December 2007. It was previously only complimentary in First Class, and cost £4.95 an hour in Standard accommodation.
The switch to free usage has tripled the number of users to date, with numbers rising from 30,000 a month to more than 100,000 in January alone.
Alan Hyde, head of communications at National Express East Coast, said: “The popularity of the service has surpassed our expectations and we are delighted to have had such a positive impact on people’s journeys. We expect to see even bigger increases in the future, as more of our customers switch on to the benefits of being able to work – or maybe just enjoy a leisurely browse of the internet – while travelling at high speed.”
National Express has found that more than 85% of customers carrying a laptop choose to use the Wi-Fi service at some point during their journey.
Alan Hyde said: “Anecdotally, major employers along the East Coast route tell us that the addition of Wi-Fi is another reason for them to switch from air to rail, as it is much easier for their employees to stay in touch and keep working while on the move.
“In addition, customers can enjoy the benefit of frequent, city to city services that are comfortable and good value – and more reliable and environmentally-friendly than travelling by air.”
National Express East Coast’s pioneering Wi-Fi service has won a number of awards, including “Innovation of the Year” at last year’s National Rail Awards. Further details about the service, including a downloadable user guide, can be found at www.nationalexpresseastcoast.com.