Following the recent refusal by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to include wifi as part of the Great Western rail franchise, local Labour figures have welcomed the commitment given by Shadow Transport Secretary to include wifi on trains if Labour wins the 2015 General Election.
Shadow Transport Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, visited Plymouth in July and discussed the importance of wifi on trains with local Labour figures. (Picture of visit attached). Plymouth Labour had stated that securing a commitment for free wifi on trains in the south west was a key objective of their presence at this year’s Labour Conference.
Speaking at Labour’s party conference in Brighton, Maria Eagle said “In this day and age wifi should be seen as a necessity rather than a luxury as people needed to work while travelling.”
She also said that a requirement for wifi should be written into the future contracts of train operators.
The Great Western franchise is currently being reviewed following the collapse of the franchising process. Minister have to date refused to change the terms of the franchise that would have seen a new early train to Plymouth included. They have also poured cold water on calls by businesses across the south west for wifi to be installed on all trains.
Luke Pollard, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, said: “When Maria Eagle visited Plymouth a few months ago we explained how wifi on trains in and out of Plymouth would make a real difference to jobs in the city by improving our connectivity.
“Labour is working hard to secure better rail connectivity for the South West, including faster train times, as it is crucial for supporting economic growth. Providing wifi on the routes to London so passengers can work as they travel should be a simple and quick way the Government and rail operators can help now.
What’s clear is that if you want wifi on trains you need to vote Labour as the Tories refuse to give a commitment for wifi on our trains. Local Tory MPs should be calling for the Transport Secretary to change his mind as the lack of wifi is putting Plymouth at a competitive disadvantage. It’s more bad decision making from this Conservative-led Coalition that is holding Plymouth back. We need wifi on trains and we need it quickly.”
Tudor Evans, Leader of the Labour-run City Council, added: “Unfortunately the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has all but poured cold water on the campaign by refusing to give any indication that the Government plans to help and instead saying the matter should be left up to the operators. Clearly that is not acceptable.
“The Government badly messed up the franchise and now it is refusing to take responsibility for the quality of service we receive, despite its impact on our regional economy. Maria Eagle’s clear commitment to this issue is extremely encouraging and we will be aiming to work with her to continue lobbying for action on this issue.”
(from a press release)