I got a message from East Coast Trains through the week telling me that their free wi-fi service is no longer to be free. Had the service they inherited from National Express been any good, the decision to charge would have been understandable. The problem was, the wi-fi was at best intermittent. The rest of the time it was just plain frustrating. I often tried to use it and ended up plugging in my dongle and accessing my commercially provided service.
So, here's to hoping that East Coast Trains ensure a greatly improved service will be available to paying customers (which doesn't block channels such as YouTube). For those lucky people travelling first class, the service will continue to be free. For the rest of us plebs, we get 15 minutes free and then the bill kicks in. My experience is that it can take 15 minutes to download a single page.
I can appreciate the need to raise revenue and as a regulated train operator, there are controls on the level of fares. But I have a niggling doubt about all this. Is it the start of a shift towards pricing structures similar to budget airlines. Will there be hidden costs coming down the line such as baggage costs and a charge to spend a penny? I hope not, but we may need to watch carefully what comes our way.
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