Project delivered with help of EEDA and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils
National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is to fully introduce wi-fi facilities on its Norwich to London Intercity services early in the New Year as the project to fit the wi-fi equipment to the Intercity train fleet nears completion.
NXEA secured a grant of £346k from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils towards installation of the equipment involved, and a preview event for stakeholder guests and the media where the wi-fi operation will be demonstrated is being held at Ipswich and Norwich stations on Wednesday 24 November.
National Express worked with partners to put together a compelling business case to secure funding – agreed earlier this year - for the installation costs of the scheme and to bring forward the upgrade within NXEA’s current franchise. Business organisations in the region have also been supportive of the initiative with the economic case for installation very strong. According to the business case, the total capital investment of £346k provided by EEDA and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils will more than pay for itself in year one by making business travellers on the services more productive, followed by further significant benefits in subsequent years.
As well as being great news for commuters, the scheme represents a tremendous example of EEDA, local authorities and National Express working in partnership to achieve an outcome which provides widespread benefits for people and businesses across East Anglia. Moreover, this investment will enhance perceptions of the Norwich to London mainline service, by offering commuters, business travellers and leisure users access to Wi-Fi which is now increasingly seen as a key component of an intercity-style rail service.
NXEA has proactively pursued a collaborative approach to this customer-focused programme which involves operating costs for the company of over £200k a year. Without this commitment and the funding support of EEDA and the county councils the installation of wi-fi at such an early date would not have been possible.
Andrew Chivers, Managing Director, NXEA said:
“The project to install wi-fi on our Intercity trains on the Norwich to London mainline is progressing well in readiness for the full introduction of the service early in the New Year. I would particularly like to thank EEDA and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils for their funding support towards the upgrade. It illustrates our ongoing commitment to continue to invest in improving train services for our customers in the region as part of our Service Improvement Plan which is centred on providing extra seats on train services into London in the December 2010 and 2011 timetable changes.”
Shona Johnstone, EEDA board member, said:
“Wi-fi has been identified as a key priority for business travellers on the Norwich to London line. It is just one of the improvements in our vision for the Great Eastern Main Line, which also includes faster journey times and greater capacity on trains. Achieving this vision would bring significant benefits to businesses in economically-important towns on the line such as Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford. These improvements will also make rail a more attractive mode for business travellers, reducing road-based travel and congestion, and reducing carbon emissions too.”
Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council Cabinet member for travel and transport said:
“Wi-fi on all Norwich to London Intercity trains will be a boon for businesses. The train journey to and from Norwich will be transformed from travel time to valuable office time, and to know that it will be available on every Intercity train will be particularly pleasing for business travellers.”
Councillor Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads, transport and planning at Suffolk County Council said:
“Train services from Ipswich to London and Norwich are part of important Intercity routes and I am delighted to be able to support this significant enhancement.”