Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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National Express rip-off exposed

I had heard about this on the grapevine but Ipswich MP Ben Gummer confirmed it in his weekly Morning Ipswich Star column (not online) on Friday that National Express used a grant from a government quango to install a Wireless network on-board their trains and then CHARGED passengers to use the new WiFi service.

Ben Gummer said:

“Now, I received an interesting little booklet through the post the other day, from National Express. Clearly keen to ensure they can bid again for franchises, the pamphlet trumpeted their achievements on our line between 2004-2012. Peak seating was increased by 11,000 seats, an improvement of 18%; the Ipswich to Cambridge service was upgraded; punctuality (on a loose definition of the word) went from 85% to more than 90%; wifi was introduced on the mainline; an hourly Ipswich to Lowestoft service was introduced; there was increased service frequency across the region, and fewer trains were delayed and cancelled.

All of these facts are true. But many were conditions of the franchise imposed by the government and wifi was largely paid for by the East of England Development Agency, none of which was explained in National Express’s text.” 

So the former train operator for the Greater Anglia mainline and branch services took cash paid by you and I in tax from the now defunct East of England Development Agency – set up by the regionalisation lunatics in New Labour – and then had the audacity to force us to pay the money again to access the WiFi service paid for by us, the passengers. You couldn’t make it up.
Mr Gummer continues:

“So, in truth, these were not fully NXEA’s achievements at all. The whole thing was rather typical of why the company came to be so despised. Travellers never got the whole story from National Express. You never really felt like they were doing it for you – the passenger. Indeed, they sometimes made it feel like it was you doing them a favour.”

Come on, Abellio (now known as Greater Anglia): give us free WiFi from tomorrow!