Younger people demand improved internet connectivity on return to railways

New polling commissioned by evo-rail, a UK-based rail technology company which was formed out of First Group, has revealed that 65% of younger people (18-34 year-olds) view internet on trains as important, and 29% would be more likely to use the network if internet connectivity on trains were improved.

In particular, younger people, including young professionals and the future workforce, are demanding improved on-board Wi-Fi, with 18-34-year-olds up to three times more likely to travel by train if connectivity were improved, when compared with their parents’ generation.

Evo-rail’s polling, which was commissioned by Opinium Research, also found that:

  • One in five are more likely to travel by train if connectivity were improved, rising to close to a third of younger people;
  • Close to 65% of regular rail users view having good quality internet on trains as important;
  • If access to on-board internet were improved, 45% of respondents said they would use it to surf the web, while 42% would use it to respond to emails.

The COVID-19 pandemic, saw passenger numbers decline to around 10% of usual levels (March- April 2020), and as Britain returns to normal there is a need to encourage users back onto our trains. Rail companies must ensure that taking the train is an attractive choice for passengers.

Following the recent publication of the Williams-Shapps Review, the UK Government is in the process of reshaping our railways. Not only will enhanced internet connectivity encourage passengers back onto the network, but it will help build a railway of the future.

Evo-rail’s solution, rail-5G, can drastically improve connectivity on our trains by enabling passengers to have access to over 1Gb per second of continuous throughput, 50 times today’s average speeds. This will mean passengers will not only be able to surf the web and respond to

emails, but also securely use videoconferencing, stream live sports and download films and other content.

Using mmWave technology, rail-5G can deliver a cost effective and high speed Wi-Fi at a fraction of the cost of using mobile data. Passengers will enjoy unprecedented levels of connectivity, with a similar speed to what they are used to at home or at work.

Simon Holmes, Managing Director, Evo-Rail, said: “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact it has had on our rail network, we must ensure the passenger is at the heart of the sector’s recovery.

Rail-5G will boost customer experience by creating continuous connectivity. Improved, reliable internet access will allow passengers to enjoy a range of activities on their mobiles, laptops or tablets and create the flexibility for people to use their journey as part of the working day or as part of the leisure experience.

Our polling shows how important on-board Wi-Fi is to the passenger and demonstrates how a 50-fold step change in connectivity could significantly increase passenger numbers. Such a transformational change cannot be achieved by continuing to offer less bandwidth than customer need. As rail companies look to build a railway network fit for the modern passenger, the demands of our future workforce must be central to this.”

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, Transport Focus, said: “More people will go back to trains if the cost and convenience are right. By providing good Wi-Fi passengers can also use the time they have productively.”

“We know from our research that only three in 10 passengers were satisfied with the internet connection they usually receive on trains. Almost three quarters of train users also told us that they think it is important that internet connectivity on trains is improved.”

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