There was a time when railway travel was a dreary affair, characterised by surly and badly-trained staff, unexplained delays and worrying episodes of food poisoning twenty-four hours after visiting the buffet car. These days that has all changed - the staff are given intensive instruction in being rude and obnoxious, delays are accompanied by increasingly imaginative excuses and train operators are proud that stomach cramps and bouts of vomiting typically now commence barely minutes after selecting something dodgy from the refreshments trolley.
However, there remains one aspect of rail travel that commuters complain is still stuck in the past, and that is the availability of Wi-Fi. Whilst you can access Wi-Fi on most routes, the bandwidth is often so limited as to make it practically unusable. Is it reasonable to expect better?
Well, yes - it is according to Phillp Traction, operations manager for Western Valley Rail. "Of course our customers have every right to demand better internet services on our trains," he told us. "And this has been something we have been working on for some time. The problem has been that our trains travel too fast for the Wi-Fi signal, meaning that it is only able to catch up when they stop to pick up passengers."
Mr Traction says that his company has tried several methods to boost the signal, but in every case found that the proposed solution was either too messy, too expensive or defied the laws of physics. In the end they hit upon an obvious solution.
"We've slowed the trains down," he said. "Admittedly this has more than doubled the average journey time, but at least our passengers will now be able to stream Youtube clips of people falling over and walking into doors - which we feel, at the end of the day, is probably more important."