RAIL passengers travelling through Waverley Station can now access high-speed internet following a deal signed with WiFi provider The Cloud.
The agreement means commuters can browse the web on their smartphones, laptops and tablets throughout the concourses, platforms and other public areas within the station, though not on trains themselves.
It follows a deal with the BSkyB company to equip the Capital’s main railway hub with WiFi technology and offers all passengers 15 free minutes of free browsing.
Sky customers will enjoy unlimited access for free while non-Sky subscribers will face a £2 charge for 24 hours of WiFi once the initial free period has elapsed.
Edinburgh is one of eight major Network Rail stations around the UK receiving The Cloud’s WiFi link for the first time, joining nine others around the country which have undergone upgrades.
Vince Russell, managing director of The Cloud, said: “Edinburgh Waverley is one of the major stations on our railway and as Network Rail invests in upgrading these stations we too are making a significant investment to deliver state-of-the-art WiFi for its customers all across the UK. Whether it’s delivering real-time travel info to busy commuters or allowing those simply enjoying a coffee in the station to catch up on the latest news, emails and social media, this service will enhance their visit.”
A spokesman for the firm said the WiFi service would benefit travellers seeking to get online where the 3G or 4G network is “often unreliable or slow due to high demand”. “WiFi is also substantially cheaper than 3G or 4G,” he said. “It is much more reliable. When lots of people are using 4G it does seem to slow down and it’s better than taking up passengers’ data allowances.”
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, welcoming the WiFi deal, said it would benefit everyone from the “casual browser to business people”.
“This is great news because anything that enhances the service of travellers must be welcomed,” he said. “Waverley Station is among the busiest stations in the UK, so this development is excellent for customers who are using the trains.
“In this age of technology it will soon become the norm to have WiFi access everywhere but it’s good we are blazing a trail here. I’m sure all the passengers using Waverley will welcome it, especially business people, where access to WiFi can be crucial.”
The news comes less than a month after the Scottish Government announced it would invest £2 million to roll out internet access on all 59 of ScotRail’s Class 170 trains, which operate the Edinburgh-Glasgow route and on lines from the Capital to Aberdeen and Inverness, Stirling and Alloa and on the Fife Circle.
From March next year, the number of WiFi trains in passenger service will steadily increase at a rate of five or six each month until the programme is completed by December.
In February, the News told how a free WiFi network extending across the city centre could be introduced by 2015 after the Capital was selected for a share in a £100 million UK Government fund to improve internet coverage.