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Wireless Networking Networking Transportation

Amtrak Upgrades Wi-Fi 164

New submitter WillgasM writes "A bit of good news for American travelers, according to the New York Times: 'After years of criticism of the wireless service on its trains, Amtrak announced on Thursday that it had upgraded its cellular-based Wi-Fi using broadband technologies that will improve the speed and reliability of the Internet in its passenger cars.' So far the service has been rolled out on the high-speed Acela lines and a few routes in California, but they hope to have the rest of their trains upgraded by the end of Summer. We're still an order of magnitude away from high-speed rails in other countries, but it's nice to know someone's trying."
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Amtrak Upgrades Wi-Fi

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  • by Art Challenor ( 2621733 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:11PM (#43754469)
    I think it's still true that Amtrak carries more passengers in the Washington, Boston, New York travel corridors than do the all the airlines combined. Those are the "high-speed Acela lines". Of course, it's just a coincidence that the lines that carry the most politicians are actually funded and effective, while the rest of the country languishes due to underfunding.
  • The US northeast is the busiest rail transportation corridor in all of North America. It makes far more sense cost- and speed-wise to take the train between most destinations there.

    We recently vacationed in the area (a year ago) and took Amtrak from Washington to Baltimore and back, from Washington to Philadelphia and from Philadelphia to Manhattan. It was reasonably quick, comfortable enough, and super convenient. I can't overstate how much nicer it is to walk on a train instead of having to pass through airport security. (As a nice bonus, flying home from Newark instead of Philadelphia or Washington saved us about $150 each.)

  • I'm not sure why we should be so worried about lack of Wi-Fi when most of us don't have access to high speed rail, period. The only current high-speed line on the Amtrak system is on the east coast, which connects the biggest east coast cities but does nothing for anyone else. We can't really start comparing Amtrak to actual high speed rail until we start connecting more cities at speeds greater than what the average Hyundai can achieve. There is plenty of demand from passengers tired of requisite anal probes at the airports, it is time to produce a real plan and go forward. NYC->Chicago would be a great start for one.
  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:47PM (#43754933) Homepage

    But then again, when does a program work out well that federal money supports?

    You're communicating on it right now...

  • by Art Challenor ( 2621733 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:48PM (#43754949)
    Amtrak gets very little money compared to the airlines. All the airports are built and staffed with public funds. The airlines pay "landing fees". The FAA including controllers are on the public payroll.

    Part of the problem with trains is there's very little political graft involved. You get an airport, you get tax money to build it, maintain it, etc. etc. etc. Looks good on your political resume. With a train, you get a (relatively) small station and then 600 miles of track - most of which is not in your district. The only reason you'd ever support that is if you put the public good first, and that's not about to happen.
  • Great news! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:02PM (#43755145)

    Train travel far exceeds air travel in the experience, especially if you get a sleeper compartment. You get your own TV, outlets, desk, toilet in your compartment, complimentary drinks, and access to all the first-class amenities. It's like travelling around in your little apartment or office. And there's something about working while the scenery flashes by that is mentally and creatively stimulating. When you get tired, you can lay down on a real bed. When you want to stretch your legs, you can walk the whole length of train if you want, without squeezing through the forest of elbows on the cattle cars they call "jumbo" jets.

    You also get to go from city center to city center, so the connections to the train station are always easier and cheaper than getting to the airport and getting your anal probe from the TSA. Japan and Europe have had high speed train travel forever, on land masses roughly the scale of the US (Japan, for example, is longer that California, Europe is bigger than the continental US), so it can be done.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:37PM (#43755553)

    People don't understand how large and empty most of the US is.

    The rest of the country languishes because everything is so far apart. Do you want to spend days on a train to get from Chicago to LA, or do you want to spend 4-5 hours on a plane? Even high speed rail can't beat a jet. In the Northeast the density of cities plus the ability to work/talk/move around on a train trumps the cost and hassle of air travel, elsewhere not so much.

    "Hello air travel? It's train travel... you win."

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