Leader: ‘Scheme must go forward at high speed’

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THE introduction of a free wi-fi service for passengers travelling on some trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow is long overdue.

The pilot scheme will be announced today by transport minister Keith Brown after the award of a £250,000 contract to First ScotRail.

The hope is that the technology will eventually be available on trains across the country and this should certainly be welcomed.

But the wider question is when will this happen and why has it taken so long to get to where we are today?

In 2012, when buses are routinely fitted with wi-fi and when cross-border trains from Virgin and East Coast have been offering the service for years, why is Scotland only now dipping its dongle in the world of train wi-fi? While the scheme has been understandably hailed by business leaders as a step forward many are privately questioning why the pace of progress has been so slow.

Yes, the technology is ever-changing and not cheap. But Edinburgh-Glasgow is the flagship service of the Scottish rail network. So why was the provision of rail wi-fi not made an explicit part of the franchise renewal agreement?

It is not only businesses who suffer. As Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, acknowledged: “Most tourists visiting our country expect to be able to access information on our country through their phones, tablet devices and notebooks.”

In other words, we talk big but seem backward to visitors when there is not a sniff of wi-fi on our main line.

The key now is to ensure that, once the results of the pilot are known, this scheme is taken forward with the speed of a French TGV, and not the leisurely pace of an Intercity 125.

Grand finale

what song would you choose to sum up your life with all its ups and downs?

My Way, perhaps, by Ol’ Blue Eyes or even the Sid Vicious version. City football fans might plump for either the Hector Nicol classic Hearts Hearts Glorious Hearts or The Proclaimers’ Sunshine on Leith, while the mischievous might like Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

But make the choice at your peril as it’s now more likely to get an airing at your final send-off.

City businessman Daniel Langdale’s offer to create video tributes for funerals with a suitable soundtrack might not be to everyone’s taste, but they could provide a very personal touch.

Just remember to think carefully before telling anyone your favourite song.