PASSENGERS are to get free wifi at 25 ScotRail railway stations and on more of its trains, transport minister Keith Brown announced today.
The £1.25 million boost comes as part of previous pledges to equip the whole network, including major routes, by next year.
The move comes amid booming rail travel with passenger numbers up by one third to 83 million over the last nine years.
More young people are also choosing public transport over cars to save money and so they can use mobile devices. Wifi enables faster internet browsing.
The stations to be covered by December are: Aberdeen, Anniesland, Ayr, Dalmarnock, Dundee, Dunfermline Town, Edinburgh Haymarket, Edinburgh Park, Exhibition Centre, Falkirk High, Fort William, Glasgow Central, Glasgow Queen Street, Helensburgh Central, Inverness, Kilmarnock, Kirkcaldy, Linlithgow, Mount Florida, Paisley Gilmour Street, Partick, Perth, Stirling and Wemyss Bay stations.
Wifi will also be added to class 380 electric trains, which operate on the Edinburgh-North Berwick and Dunbar routes and between Glasgow and Ayrshire/Inverclyde, by next March.
Wifi is already operating on ScotRail’s class 170 diesel trains, which run between Scotland’s seven cities.
The additions will mean one third of the ScotRail fleet is equipped, along with its busiest stations and those where passengers spend the longest, such as interchanges.
Stations that will be used by people travelling to next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will also be covered.
However, only six of the class 170 trains have been equipped so far, meaning most passengers on routes such as the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line have wifi access yet.
ScotRail admitted it was still ironing out coverage problems, with several “not spots” remaining such as in tunnels.
Making the announcement at Paisley Gilmour Street station, Mr Brown said: “Wifi is as much an expectation as an attraction. People expect to be able to communicate when they are travelling to work and for leisure.”
He added: “In 2014, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase what we have to offer as a modern country.
“I am pleased that in advance of the major events taking place in 2014, visitors flying into Prestwick and Glasgow airports, who then join the rail network, will be able to get access to wifi on every train.
“Combined with the station enhancements, this will help keep Scotland’s railways at the forefront of wi-fi installation.”
Mr Brown said the whole ScotRail network was due to be covered by 2019 but he hoped it would be completed earlier.
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “We considered several factors when selecting stations to receive wi-fi, including footfall, how long people stay in the station, number of services and the impact of major events, such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup. We have longer term plans for further stations to receive wifi in the future.”
Gleneagles station will also have wifi in time for the Ryder Cup in September 2014.
Mike Hewitson, head of policy at the independent watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “This is good news for passengers in Scotland. We know passengers value being able to connect remotely - business travellers especially appreciate the ability to work on the train.
“Being able to turn ‘down time’ into productive time is a key advantage that rail can offer.”