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Riding the US rails just got a little bit better, as Amtrak is reaching into their pockets to pay for a little bit of a technology upgrade.
Travelers must be enjoying the WiFi and other in-train offerings, so the decision has been made to boost the connection options and speeds in hopes of attracting even more in-train WiFi fans.
Amtrak leans on cellular carriers to grab their WiFi signal, so we’re sure there will still be some dead spots or other areas where things aren’t ideal. Still, we can’t really complain given the price—WiFi is free aboard Amtrak.
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Traveling to Europe this summer? Odds are good that you'll find yourself saying "oui," "si" or "ja" to that and, if you're hopping city-to-city, that trains will feature into the itinerary.
Stick this info in the back of your mind: like US airlines, highspeed European train lines are working to roll out onboard WiFi. Of course many have had it for some time now, like the Inter-City Express (ICE) bullet train we rode yesterday from Hamburg to Frankfurt. These DeutscheBahn trains are easy to spot, thanks to their white carriages sporting silver windows and a slick red cheatline.
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SCORE! With the horrible air travel news from over the weekend, it's time for great news on the train travel front. Amtrak just announced yesterday that they've added WiFi on 12 more east coast routes, bringing the percentage of riders who can access it up to 60%.
The WiFi service is called AmtrakConnect and before now, passengers opting for the train over the plane only found it on the high-speed Acela and the normal-speed Pacific Cascades trains. The new routes are short and limited to the east coastno New York to Chicago or DC to Chicago routes with WiFi yetand where available, AmtrakConnect will make use of 4G connections.
And the new routes with on-track WiFi are:
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We still need to get through the Royal Wedding before finalizing our plans for the 2012 Olympics, but if need be, we might be able to plan things on the fly when the fun rolls around next year. London is moving full-speed ahead in preparation for next year’s games, and it looks like Tube stations will also be getting some spit polishing.
Unfortunately the upgrade doesn’t include air conditioning, but they do involve a little bit of technology. The city is attempting to bring WiFi to the London Underground before the 2012 Olympics, which means no more dropped signals on your smartphone when you’re forced to head below street level.
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We may talk about airplanes quite a bit here on Jaunted, but trust that our love is strong for trains, too. It just sucks that we can't be as proud of Amtrak as Europe and Japan can be of their awesome train systems, but at least Amtrak is making headway in the on-board connectivity departments. In addition to the Acela trains and select stations having WiFi, the west coast Cascades train now has free WiFi.
The Cascades, which travels between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, has thus far relied on its awesome scenery to do the majority of the entertaining for its passengers. But now, thankfully, people can get a little work done while enjoying the ride, as the WiFi network will allow passengers to log into VPN networks as well. Of course, just as with in-flight wifi, don't put all your hopes on hooking into on-track WiFi as a signal isn't guaranteed.
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We love Tuesdays. Why, you ask? Because the day brings many travel tips and quips as "Travel Tuesday" on Twitter, and we're going to share our favorite with you. Got an avid travel twitterer we should follow? Let us know.g
It's a sad, yet true, fact that as upgrading technology is forever a race. Now that some airplanes have in-flight WiFi, the rest of aviation is running to keep up. And it can't just be airplanes, but trains tooAmtrak just got wifi on their Acela trains and in select stations, and it's even free. How much longer will it be until automobiles come equipped with their own personal networks so that passengers can surf the web faster on their smartphones?
And although we can now access the internet wirelessly in so many previously unimaginable places, cable and telephone companies like TimeWarner and Comcast continue to confuse and provide service that isn't all that fast unless you opt for the pricey packages. Twitter user @courtneywmay is irked as well:
Acela will have more usable Internet than this office. How sad.
Trust usthere is nothing more frustrating than paying through the nose for internet at home, only to find free service that beats the heck out of yours at places like McDonald's or a bus station. But then we're all for more WiFi everywhere, so we suppose we can't complain too much.
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The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived! Kind of. We mean, it's probably not the biggest piece of news ever, but it's exciting nonetheless and a step forward for USA rail travel when we say that Amtrak's Acela have free WiFi right now! They promised us that they'd have it flowing by March, and we're surprised to see that they were good on their word.
According to the AP, the free WiFi isn't just on the 20 Acela routes, but it's even at a few of their stations. You'll find a free Amtrak signal in the gate areas of Washington Union Station, Baltimore Penn Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, New York Penn Station, Providence Station and Route 128 Station in Boston. They also report that Wilmington Station will get it when they finish up their station renovations next year.
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We're only one month away from the start of free WiFi on Amtrak Acela trains in the US, but like usual, the European train system has it beat.
Last month, we sought to take a train down to London from Edinburgh, and desperately wanted a train that offered a WiFi signal, so naturally we turned to book with Virgin Trains, which touts free WiFi in first class and paid access in coach. However, it turns out that their website will book any available train running the route and not just Virgin ones, so we were dismayed to find ourselves stuck with a ticket on an East Coast train, even though a Brit friend assured us that it would be nicer than if we had gone Virgin.
So was it nicer? Find out after the jump!
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Woo-hoo! Another victory for the modern traveler as Amtrak has named this the year of free WiFi aboard their Acela trains. To tell you the truth, we knew this was coming, even that it would be free, but we didn't know when it would be completed or if we could even count on it.
Well we can count on it! Amtrak announced that installation of WiFi on the Acela trains (which are the express routes on the East Coast) will be completed by March, as part of a celebration of the Acela's tenth anniversary of service. Other upgrades due for the trains include "leather seats and improved tray tables and power outlets." Score!
But who knows when we'll get to try out the WiFi and outlets; the Acelas are too damn expensive. Yeah right like we're paying $100 for a one-way to Boston when a WiFi and outlet-equipped BoltBus takes almost the same time and costs around $30. Keep trying, Amtrak, but we're proud of your achievements thus far.
· Amtrak adding free WiFi on Acela Express Trains [USA Today]
· Amtrak Competes with In-Flight WiFi by Adding Internet to Acela in 2010 [Jaunted]
· Amtrak travel [Jaunted]
Amtrak / Trains / Train Travel / Acela / On-Track WiFi / Technology / → All Tags
Alright so how broke Amtrak is and how badly they need more passengers and cash is old and negative news. So how about some good news for train travel? Just a few days ago, it was announced that Amtrak is planning for WiFi on its Acela trains by 2010. This is what their passengers badly need, and hopefully the Northeast's few Acela routes are just the beginning.
2010 may be just around the corner, but frequent Amtrak passengers have been vainly attempting to connect to a network onboard for months now. For instance, when we chugga-chugged our way for fifteen hours (each way) between NY and the Midwest in March. Oh yes, we found an open network or two that moved with our train, but couldn't successfully connect. What's that about?
While the airline race to be the first with fleetwide WiFi (which Virgin America won) sure mobilized the WiFi supporters over these past few months, it seems as though the hubbub has also awakened Amtrak.
In yesterday's post on Amtrak's summer discounts, a commenter alerted us to the Capitol Corridor's plans to implement on-track WiFi (as opposed to "in-flight") as soon as they find a suitable contractor. This would mean internet access to accompany increased electrical outlets for the 170-mile rail corridor of these Northern California counties: Placer, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, and Santa Clara.
Calling all companies capable of getting California's rail onlinehow about hooking a corridor up? It's just too bad GoGo only does airline installation because the whole Amtrak network could really benefit from a speedy, nationwide plan like now.
· Capitol Corridor Wireless Network [Capitol Corridor]
· Amtrak Discounts Summer Fares, Insists Trains Are Cooler Than Buses [Jaunted]
· Train Travel Coverage [Jaunted]