Mayor Dan Norris has reacted with anger to reports of ministers potentially pulling the plug on free Wi-Fi on trains as part of a cost-cutting drive.
Most operators currently offer a free wi-fi connection as standard.
However, the Department for Transport has now decided wi-fi is “low priority” for passengers and that train operators need to “justify the business case for it”.
Mr Norris blasted the “bizarre” move which would make rail “less attractive” at a time when his West of England Mayoral Combined Authority is trying to get more passengers to use the trains.
He pointed to his multi-million-pound package of rail improvements including more frequent services from Keynsham, Yate and other West of England stations to Bristol starting this week thanks to a £7 million-plus investment from the Mayoral Combined Authority.
Calling the cut a “short-termist” move which will prove a “false economy” down the line, he said: “This is a truly bizarre move, and is the very definition of a false economy. Because what do people do on trains? They get on their phone or laptops when they’re travelling. They expect to be connected. If that option is taken away, they might think they may as well use their car – with all that means for the West of England, and our efforts to hit our ambitious net-zero targets. While my West of England Mayoral Combined Authority is investing millions to improve our railways for residents, we are being derailed in these efforts by short-termist ministers. It once again confirms that the Government’s only vision when it comes to our trains is managed decline. ”