The operation of Britain's east coast mainline will switch in December; new provider promises free Wi-Fi for all: In the UK, rail infrastructure and operations are uncoupled, and the government awards contracts for lines to private firms. The east coast line has been run by GNER for several years in a generally positively received manner, but the firm can't afford the franchise fees going forward. National Express will take over in December of this year until spring 2015, paying nearly £1.4b for the privilege.
GNER was the second major rail line in the world to offer comprehensive Internet access; SJ was the first. Both projects originated with Icomera. GNER uses cellular backhaul for service, and the growth in 3G networks and the increase in speed allowed them to achieve quite comprehensive coverage and reasonable speeds. GNER charged for access in coach, providing it free to first class. National Express will offer free service in all classes.
Competition for the line was heated, and National Express kicked in free Wi-Fi among other incentives to get the bid. They're also promising to refund ticket fees if a passenger has to stand for an entire journey.