Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

Summary: Amtrak is finally getting an upgrade, but it's not high-speed rail. (If you've been to Europe or Asia, you'll know that Acela is NOT high-speed).

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Amtrak is finally getting an upgrade, but it's not high-speed rail. (If you've been to Europe or Asia, you'll know that Acela is NOT high-speed).

But Amtrak will be getting slightly more technologically savvy (and bearable) with the addition of free Wi-Fi to those Acela trains. So far, that means only trains on the Northeast corridor (New York, Washington and Boston, specifically). No word on when that will be available anywhere else, where Amtrak trains are old and slow as beasts.

If Amtrak seriously thinks that the inclusion of free Wi-Fi is enough to make people pay for an overpriced train ride that isn't really that much faster, then they're really in more trouble than we all know. (Three hours from NY to Boston? 30 minutes shorter than a regular train? Bolt Bus only takes four sometimes.)

Wi-Fi should really be implemented on those long-haul rides, like the ones that go across country or up and down the West Coast, because those are truly painful journeys that I've even experienced first-hand.

Still, I guess it's a start. Now just get me from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two to three hours (with or without Wi-Fi), and I'll be happy.

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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11 comments
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  • Sad Railway System...

    Put your money into a first-class high-speed system like the rest of the world has, and forget the freakin' wifi.
    calmarimaker
  • Another sign of American decay

    America's infrastructure and nation-building achievements date back to the 1800's. It's really sad that nothing new has been added to the hard work of that generation.

    Imagine, the 1 trillion dollar bailout could have funded a transcontinental high speed train with 1000's of construction jobs and even more manufacturing and steel jobs.

    Instead, we get Wall Street business-as-usual.

    Go America Go!
    croberts
  • RE: Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

    That is great news! Free wi-fi on during the train ride. And anything six hours or under beats the airport hassle any day. The bus is good but you cannot get up and walk around on a bus. I'll take the train every time verses a plane or bus. And now wifi helps make it a more enjoyable trip.
    JimBobM
  • RE: Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

    This story is grossly misinformed. First of all, Acela from New York to DC is a fair bit faster than three hours. I believe the schedule puts it at 2:50 but trains often arrive ahead of schedule and if not, certainly almost always on time, thus you have a very predictable arrival time, which cannot be said for the (awful) Bolt Bus or even airlines. At $155 on average that I pay for Acela between NYP and WAS, I don't think it is overpriced... they are pricing against air shuttles, not against Bolt Bus as most business riders would never take such an unpredictable and uncomfortable mode of transportation.

    The fact that they are giving business travelers on one of their few profitable lines WiFi as opposed to the casual tourist traveler on a cross-country train is completely logical from a business perspective.

    Yes we need to upgrade the passenger rail system, but given that Amtrak is hobbled by having to maintain unprofitable cross-country routes, they cannot invest in their profitable Northeast Corridor. The State of California will hopefully be building your 3-hour "true" high speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, not Amtrak.
    arturoramos
  • RE: Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

    Rachel:

    Have you ever been on an Acela.

    I know this baby is not [i]true[/i] high speed (as the TGV, Japan's bullet or China's CRH), but they travel at 250 km/hr (155 mph). That is way faster than Bolt Bus and normal trains [60-90 km/hr (37-55 mph) at the most].

    I've traveled from Washington to New York in under 2 1/2 hours, way faster than a plane (considering booking, boarding, liftoff and landing) and having WiFi creates a true business experience.

    As for a two to three hour ride from New York to LA, according to my Google Maps search, it's 2,790 mi route that is, a whopping 1,496 km/hr (930 mph) speed minimum. Mach one is 1,236 km/hr (768 mph), so that would make the train go faster than the Concorde.

    Please get real. The max you could travel by land would be in a Buggatti Beyron at 407.9 km/h (253.5 mph), and the tires will only last 18 minutes.
    cosuna
    • Different route

      I believe she said San Fran to LA, not NY to LA. Most of the article was about the NE cities but at the end she did switch to California.
      If someone did come up with a way to cross the country in 3 hours, I am sure there would be people making good use of that service. The SR-71 fleet is no longer in service, unfortunately.
      Morti
  • RE: Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

    I would like to clarify the post by Cosuna. I travel Acela between Washington, NY, Boston frequently. They go 100MPH for about 5 minutes on only certain parts of the trip due to aged tracks and bridges. If the Obama administration wants to help with Infrastructure, put the money in the Nations Rail and off-load the over crowded gas guzzling highways.
    jeffjreilly
  • RE: Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait

    I love riding Amtrak - I can plug my laptop into power, talk on my cell, and now surf the web! Sweet!

    No narly security lines or sardine seats of an airplane, plenty of room and easy access to the bathroom at any time. Oh yeah, and the view isn't bad sometimes too. Let's not talk about driving anywhere!
    WardChristman
  • US nationwide rail? Not gonna happen

    To paraphrase the late Charlton Heston, the only way the US will get nationwide rail is when their cold, dead hands are separated from their steering wheels.

    America would rather go to war over oil than come up
    with the collective courage to do the right thing.
    The preponderance of moneyed business interests will
    make sure of that.

    Remember the unholy alliance of GM, Firestone, and
    Standard Oil that bought up and dismantled the trolley
    systems in the 1900s?

    The next major war will be between the US and the People's Republic of China. China just passed the US as the world's largest car market, and Germany as the
    world's largest exporter. China is roaming the world
    for oil. It has struck deals with unsavory
    governments to get at the oil.

    China is already the world's 2nd largest oil
    consumer, after the US. Let's see how much the
    average American will whine when China competes with
    the US for more of the world's oil.

    Keep whining Americans. After all, you're good at it.
    rosanlo
  • Amtrak stops too much

    There is scant difference in time - 10 or 15 minutes - between the Acela
    and the regular (regional) Amtrak trains between DC and Philadelphia.
    The cost differential meanwhile is around $100.

    While the Acela can reach top speeds of somewhere around 130 or 140
    mph, it does so for only a few minutes at a time. The problem is not its
    speed, but the # of times it stops.

    Its about time they offered WiFi - buses have had it for years.
    pranavb99@...
  • Photo shows NW, not NE, train

    That's a low-speed train in Seattle, not a Northeastern Acela.
    K7AAY