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Passengers on mainline trains in the UK could be set to see dramatic improvements in mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity.

According to the government, mobile data requirements have increased significantly in recent years, while the use of tablets and smartphones means people expect reliable and high-quality connectivity wherever they go.

Ministers have therefore tabled a plan to roll out mobile masts and fibre optic cables alongside railway tracks.

This would enable passengers travelling on to access mobile broadband speeds of around 1Gbps; enough for several hundred passengers to stream uninterrupted video content at the same time.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, commented: "Improved mobile connectivity will help passengers to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online while on the move, as we continue to build and develop a railway fit for the 21st century."

Digital Minister Matt Hancock added that people should be able to get connected "where they live, work and travel".

"This means improving connections on Britain’s railways now, and making sure they are fit for the future," he said.

Mr Hancock acknowledged there is a long way to go, but said the goal of delivering world-class connectivity to rail passengers will make journeys "more enjoyable and productive" in the future.

Bruce Williamson of Railfuture has welcomed the government announcement, as he believes Wi-Fi has moved from being an "optional extra" to "something essential" for rail passengers.

"It should become absolutely standard for all trains on the British railway network to have seamless connectivity, as it’s essential for attracting the smartphone connected generation to rail, as well as the business traveller working on the move," he stated.

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