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Free, on-board wifi comes to Northern's electric services

Leeds and Bradford commuters travelling on Northern Rail’s electric trains can now access super-fast, free WiFi while on-board.

A joint initiative between Northern Rail, Leeds City Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has secured investment of £750,000 from BDUK (Broadband UK, an arm of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport).

This is the first WiFi installation of its kind for Northern and is the only on train WiFi scheme being funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The WiFi is available on Northern’s Class 333, 321 and 322 electric trains, which operate between Leeds and Skipton, Ilkley and Bradford Forster Square, as well as to Wakefield and Doncaster.

Passengers have access to 20MB of free WiFi as well as unlimited 'entertrainment' courtesy of content provider Spoken Ink and stored locally on Icomera’s onboard hardware. Users can access a range of high-quality media content, including top Sky NOW TV shows, bestselling audiobooks from Audible, games, music, and local and national news – all ready to stream to devices for free. Since they are not streaming large media files, passengers using locally stored media significantly reduce the load on the connection for others wishing to work on the go or use social media.

“The SuperConnected Cities programme aims to give access to the latest broadband technologies to everyone – businesses, residents and visitors – across the two cities," said Cllr James Lewis, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Transport Committee. "Introducing free WiFi on-board Northern’s electric trains between Leeds and Bradford is opening up even more opportunities to rail users on the go. They can check their email, book a ticket in advance or read the latest news while travelling and stay connected on the move. It’s fantastic to have secured the funding and the feedback we’ve been getting has been really positive.”

Rob Warnes, Planning and Programmes Director for Northern, is delighted the new system is proving popular with customers: “We’ve seen a great take up in the on-board WiFi, registering over 100,000 users so far and customers have been telling us they love the speed as well as the content.”

SuperConnected Cities

The Leeds Bradford SuperConnected cities programme is funded by BDUK (the government’s broadband delivery arm – part of DCMS) and is being delivered by Leeds City Council’s economic development service on behalf of the two West Yorkshire cities. The initiative is part of a national programme to improve broadband connectivity and is funding investments in a range of public buildings such as libraries, community centres and other council run venues, and on public transport. A ‘connection voucher’ scheme which offers businesses a grant to upgrade to a superfast broadband connection is also part of the programme. The SuperConnected Cities initiative is running alongside the Superfast West Yorkshire infrastructure programme, which aims to bring high speed connectivity to residents and businesses in more rural areas. For more information about superfast broadband in West Yorkshire and Government-funded projects to improve access visit: superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk

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