I travel a lot by train in the UK. And I spend a lot of time on GNER trains.
GNER is an odd company. When things work well, they work well, but at the first sign of a problem such as the wrong sort of rain, the train time table is the first thing thrown out of the window. One major problem they have is their parent company, Sea Containers, filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the other week – full story. I am now wonder if Sea Containers financial troubles explain the price hikes we have seen in GNER train tickets in recent years.
One thing GNER has been doing is introducing WiFi on its trains and this week I tried it for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised.
The connection procedure is fairly straight forward. In second class when you try to connect to the internet via your browser the window defaults to the GNER home-page where you can buy internet time at £2.95 for 30 minutes, 2 hours for £7.95, or 24 hours at £9.95. It is not cheap! And one major catch is you have to use the alloted time in one go (you can re-connect multiple times during the time slot), you cannot ‘save’ time between trips. i.e. you can’t buy 24 hours and use it over a week of business trips. (I can’t see why anyone would buy 24 hours. Who would want it? Who would need it? Who would spend 24 hours on a train in the UK? – actually I once had a trip from London that was supposed to take 3 hours and took 11… so I guess it is possible). In first class the connection is free (I have tried to ‘gate crash’ the first class ‘hotspot’ by sitting in the buffet carriage (the coach closest to first), but I can’t get a connection. I guess they must be using a series of multiple low-power transmitters per coach.).
Anyway, the system works very well, however, I do find it weird to be speeding across the UK countryside at 100+ mph whilst surfing the net and posting to a blog….
What is even more weird is the connection on the train seems to go via Sweden and the IP address is registered in Amsterdam. Funny old world…!
If you need to travel by train in Europe or the UK and are booking tickets in the UK the trainline is a good site to try. Trains to Europe from the UK are available from Eurostar. If you live outside the UK then you might like to try International Rail, Rail Europe or Railpass.com.