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Comments on news posted 2010-03-01 12:02:21: Amtrak has deployed free Wi-Fi service on all twenty of the rail operator's Acela Express trains running between Washington and Boston, according to the Associated Press. ..

page: 1 · 2 · next


Boricua
Premium
join:2002-01-26
Sacramuerto

What's up with that?

Hey, how about the west coast. Many commuters use the Amtrak from Roseville to the Bay Area to commute.
--
Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian. Robert Orben



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

You gotta start somewhere. Amtrak is probably more used in the NE than anywhere else, so it's logical to start here.



cabana
Department of Adjustments
Premium,Mod
join:2000-07-07
New York, NY
reply to Boricua

...now if Amtrak could just offer good TRAIN service on these corridors we would be all set...


Light Guy

join:2006-05-12
Somerville, NJ

Free? Not Really

The least expensive Acela seat between NYC and Washington is $155 compared to $49 for the Northeast Regional service.
The Acela Express is an hour shorter and Business Class seating which would cost an extra $37 on the least expensive train.


xenophon

join:2007-09-17

Phone tethering

I tether my phone to laptop when on transit, but WiFi is a nice option if free. On plane, since there is no cell service, paying $5 for WiFi is worth it per leg - really shortens the flight. I'm not willing to pay over $10 though. Are gogo codes still good?



MPScan
Premium
join:2001-08-24
Boston, MA
reply to fifty nine

Re: What's up with that?

It's also the only profitable line in the whole Amtrak system.



DaveDude
No Fear

join:1999-09-01
New Jersey
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
·ViaTalk
reply to cabana

said by cabana:

...now if Amtrak could just offer good TRAIN service on these corridors we would be all set...
The whole penns station to stamford thing, is a bit wierd. There are alot missing service which would get more people on the train.


sansri88
digital is here
Premium
join:2005-12-17
New York, NY
kudos:1

good stuff

free wifi in penn station, that means i can kill time while waiting for my njtransit train. yay

free wifi in penn station, free wifi at metropark and cell service in between, i'm covered everywhere except under the hudson. sweet



cyclotour

@209.236.250.x

Amtrak Offers Free Wi-Fi In Northeast

Amtrak's Empire Service and other services (including California) compete with intercity bus services (Trailways, Greyhound, Bolt, Megabus.) The major intercity bus services already offer free Wi-Fi on their buses.



Thane_Bitter
Inquire within
Premium
join:2005-01-20
Reviews:
·Bell Sympatico

But how good is it?

Sounds nice but does the service actually work? Case in point, VIA rail, (Canada's federally operated money loosing equivalent to Amtrak) also offers WiFi for free (it was intended to be a user pay system). However because of connection problems (translation: the system doesn't work while the train is in motion) they have been offering the service (lack of service) for no charge.

According to VIA's website it uses satellites and may experiences outages. Oddly enough there are no tunnels or many overhead obstructions that would otherwise hinder operation, but it doesn't work. The system does work at the stations along the Quebec Windsor corridor; however this is typical of the service:

Tracing route to dslreports.com [209.123.109.175]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 3 ms 2 ms 3 ms ontrain.viawifi.ca [192.168.134.1]
2 910 ms 1854 ms 1760 ms 10.0.17.1
3 894 ms 1146 ms 765 ms vlan706-gw.ripnet.com [66.78.97.65]
4 987 ms 923 ms 717 ms d221-78-17.commercial.cgocable.net [216.221.78.1
7]
5 493 ms 595 ms 699 ms gw-nac.torontointernetxchange.net [198.32.245.38
]
6 * * * Request timed out.
7 * * * Request timed out.
8 1220 ms 1669 ms 2276 ms 0.e1-1.tbr1.oct.nac.net [209.123.10.17]
9 518 ms 2432 ms 3491 ms vlan804.esd1.oct.nac.net [209.123.10.2]
10 835 ms 547 ms 910 ms www.dslreports.com [209.123.109.175]

Trace complete.


If Amtrak can provide a system that works reliability and provides a reasonable amount of bandwidth per user then they very well could offer the service for a fee.



FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
reply to fifty nine

Re: What's up with that?

said by fifty nine:

You gotta start somewhere. Amtrak is probably more used in the NE than anywhere else, so it's logical to start here.
Also, many Congresscritters from MA, NY, CT, PA, NJ, DE, MD ride the NE corridor trains as they commute to work in Wash,DC. And Amtrak depends greatly on subsidies to keep operating.

wildcat man

join:2007-11-03
Kansas City, MO

Is this VZ or Sprint for Mi-Fi coverage?

Does anyone know?



FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

3 edits

said by wildcat man:

Is this VZ or Sprint for Mi-Fi coverage? Does anyone know?
Neither after reading about their partner Nomad Digital »www.uknomad.com/index.html who designed the solution for Amtrak. They use Mobile Wimax to connect to APs on each rail car. And the AP then connects WiFi devices to it. The Mobile Wimax antenna systems trackside are connected to fiber buried along the right of way of the tracks.

It should be similar to what they put together in Utah for the Utah Transit Authority:
»www.uknomad.com/content.html?cm_···ls&id=41

Info on how to connect to Acela WiFi and Amtrak Station Wifi and on the restrictions to be expected:
»www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe···05732514

soccerguy

join:2004-06-28
Seattle, WA
reply to Boricua

Re: What's up with that?

Oregon/Washington/Amtrak are currently testing wi-fi on the Amtrak Cascades train routes between Vancouver BC and Eugene OR.


Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Light Guy

Re: Free? Not Really

the Acela also cannot run hammer to the floor in lots of areas north of NYC due to grade crossings in CT.

the US will never have a high speed rail that is proper unless it is elevated above or sunk below grade. and even then idiot kids will still get hit by trains going 200mph and mom will sue the company because you know trains are suppost to stop on a dime, and 20ft fences are not enough.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports


Methadras

join:2004-05-26
Spring Valley, CA

This is nonsense...

How about Amtrack trying to get itself into the range of profitability instead of relying on government patronage before trying to offer free wi-fi. This is ridiculous.



Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

First of all, one way to increase profitability is to increase the quality of services offered. If Amtrak is offering Wi-Fi, more business travelers might ride trains which would mean more money for Amtrak.

Secondly, they said it would be free for the trial period and they'd access whether or not it would remain free after that. It's quite possible that this could become an additional revenue source for Amtrak.
--
-Jason Levine
Support a children's charity. Buy a calendar and/or a photo book. Shooting For A Cause



FastiBook

join:2003-01-08
Newtown, PA

1 edit

I see a lot of ignorance...

About trains, amtrak and wifi on amtrak trains.

The premium level Acela Express service is carried by high speed trainsets that typically do not decouple or disconnect from itself, this makes wifi a lot easier to figure out, as the passenger cars are not split up in yards, and issues are more easily fixed. The older "horizon" and "amfleet" cars are aging and may be retired within 15 years no need to put high tech stuff in them when new stuff will replace them in a few years.

As far as speed & pricing, acela is not aimed at the everyday traveler, it is aimed at the airline shuttle route traveler, the speeds vary from 135 to 150, with most of the 150 mph being in rhode island. Other trains are limited to 125 mph, long distance trains operate at 110 due to the typically heavier nature of the consist. Pricing ranges from 59 to 200 dollars, on regional and other trains such as keystone, vermonter, and other trains range from 25 to 79 dollars.

The only reason amtrak fails to make a net profit is because it is still competing with cars and bus service as well as air travel, all heavily subsidized by both the states & the federal government. In fact funding for amtrak is about 1-7% of airport & highway funding any given year. If the money for the needed upgrades and changes were there, you'd see a massive & efficient national rail footprint, not the vague shadow we have today.

- A
--
LETS GO METS!



NickD
Premium
join:2000-11-17
Princeton Junction, NJ
Reviews:
·Comcast

If someone's paying for their own travel, they would not want to splurge for the Acela when they could pay a third of the cost for the regional train, or a tenth of the cost for a bus. Most Acela riders are either very rich or are spending someone else's money, or in the case of this severe winter, stranded with no other option.

Greyhound, Boltbus, and Megabus, and even some of the Chinese buses offer free wi-fi between Boston-NYC-DC.



Boricua
Premium
join:2002-01-26
Sacramuerto
reply to Light Guy

Re: Free? Not Really

said by Light Guy:

The least expensive Acela seat between NYC and Washington is $155 compared to $49 for the Northeast Regional service.
The Acela Express is an hour shorter and Business Class seating which would cost an extra $37 on the least expensive train.
That's crazy. It only cost me $17 one-way to go from Sacramento to Richmond, CA to transfer to the BART when I go to SFO or coming back.
--
Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian. Robert Orben

sweller

join:2009-04-25
Los Alamos, NM
reply to FastiBook

Re: I see a lot of ignorance...

said by FastiBook:

... high speed trainsets ...
Ain't no such animal in this country. Not in *my* lifetime.

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to xenophon

Re: Phone tethering

Exactly. Penn station and its river tunnels have microcells all over. Can't remember if Baltimore tunnels had cell service or not. There are multiple 3G providers, just go with one. You'll have uninterrupted service the entire trip. Its just smarter to pay for a 3G connection ONCE per month, than pay at many different wifi spots, which you have no guarantee of them existing where you need them.


patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to NickD

Re: I see a lot of ignorance...

Acela rarely runs faster than the Regionals because of signaling/track conditions, and saves only 20 mins in the end from NY to DC when comparing an express regional (or former metroliner) with acela (always express). Most of the time savings just comes with the fact that Acela skips many more stations than the regionals. I do prefer Amtrak over the buses since Amtrak holds connecting trains for its non-NEC service. Amtrak has bathrooms with running water. Usually a snack car (no 10 minute mad dash to the convenience store and it's bathroom). Amtrak has electrical outlets everywhere, Greyhound basically no (you might be lucky if you pick the right brand, and you happen to get a new bus). Amtrak seats are a little, or alot more roomy than the bus too. Amtrak is just a much better experience than the bus for a modestly higher price.


cwawak

join:2005-01-09
Collingswood, NJ
reply to Methadras

Re: This is nonsense...

Offtopic, but your subject is very correct -- it's nonsense to ask Amtrak to post a profit when the other major mode of transportation in the USA is only feasible through huge federal subsidy -- the US Interstate Highway system. How come these roads aren't forced to operate on a profit?


afiggatt

join:2007-07-12
Sterling, VA
reply to Light Guy

Re: Free? Not Really

said by Light Guy:

The least expensive Acela seat between NYC and Washington is $155 compared to $49 for the Northeast Regional service.
The Acela Express is an hour shorter and Business Class seating which would cost an extra $37 on the least expensive train.
The least expensive rate between NYP (New York Penn station, the correct shorthand to use for Amtrak) and WAS (Washington DC) for Acela is usually $133, not $155. I took an Acela WAS-NYP last Thursday for the $133 rate. The Acela is about 35 to 45 minutes faster than the Regionals between WAS and NYP, not an hour, because of the limits of the NEC which needs a lot of bridge, track, and catenary replacement work.

The Acela may be more expensive and only modestly faster than the Regionals on the Northeast Corridor, but they are frequently sold out, so people are willing to pay for the Acelas.

Wish Amtrak had turned on the free WiFi last week but so it goes. It was announced months ago that Amtrak plans to add WiFi to the Regional trains on the NEC sometime in later 2010.

Samsonian

join:2007-06-15
reply to Kearnstd

said by Kearnstd:

the US will never have a high speed rail that is proper unless it is elevated above or sunk below grade. and even then idiot kids will still get hit by trains going 200mph and mom will sue the company because you know trains are suppost to stop on a dime, and 20ft fences are not enough.

I agree, but full grade separation is very expensive. I've heard the cost of a grade separating a single intersection is in the tens of millions, and most complicated can push $100 million. Only the government can pay for that.

Concerning liability, I really think Congress needs to provide liability immunity except in cases of the rail operators fault.

I live a few miles from CalTrain, a commuter railroad on the SF Peninsula. On average there's a suicide and possibly another grade crossing accident every month, where some Darwin Award candidate decides they're better than crossing gates and heavy trains.

I suspect these idiots, or their families, sue (or settle) with the railroad over these incidents where the railroad is clearly not at fault. Trains only operate on rail tracks, they don't go anywhere willy nilly.

I've heard in Japan, to combat suicides and accidents at railroads; the rail operators will sue the person at fault (or their estate) for the damage caused. Maybe we should consider that here.

Samsonian

join:2007-06-15
reply to sweller

Re: I see a lot of ignorance...

said by sweller:

said by FastiBook:

... high speed trainsets ...
Ain't no such animal in this country. Not in *my* lifetime.
We're working on it in California. We've got a plan, and a good chuck of funding already.

But for us to complete the California HSR project, and for HSR to happen throughout this country, we need a significant, long term funding commitment from the federal government.

A new transportation bill, like proposed by Rep. Oberstar, would be the first real step in that direction.

Samsonian

join:2007-06-15
reply to Methadras

Re: This is nonsense...

Why don't roads and the aviation system become remotely profitable?

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) did a study on a road they built a few years back. They found that it cost a $1 billion dollars to build and maintain over 40 years. While fuel tax revenues would only be equivalent to $162 million for that amount of road for that period of time. Meaning that road only paid for about 16% of its true costs.

www.txdot.gov/KeepTexasMovingNew···tml#Cost'
www.austincontrarian.com/austinc···ves.html'

That's not unique to that particular road. No government owned road in Texas, or this entire country for that matter, pays for itself. Not by a long shot. Roads require direct, massive and perpetual subsidies.

Fuel taxes would have to be increased from ~$0.50 per gallon to several dollars per gallon to have any chance of paying for themselves. That's the case in Europe and Japan.

Roads are no free market. They're actually a bastion of 'socialism' and market distortions.

I don't have the data on me, but the same is true of the aviation system. Practically all airports are government financed, built, owned, and maintained (usually by state and local governments, with additional grants from federal government). And the Air Traffic Control (ATC) is run by the federal government. Aviation fuel taxes and ticket taxes aren't anywhere near covering cost of the government owned aviation infrastructure.

The ridiculous thing is that railroads are the only privately financed, built, owned, and maintained transportation system in this country. And it made a profit, up until it was undermined with over-regulation, over-taxation, and direct, subsidized competition from the government.

We used to have over 300,000 route miles of railways in this country. Today, we have less than 150,000.

Railroads still exist in this country in spite of all of this, for the same reason it was invented in the first place. Trains are the most efficient form of transport ever created. Steel wheel on steel rail has 1/10th the rolling resistance of rubber tires on asphalt or concrete. Energy requirements follow that.

No other country has engaged in such a reckless policy. In most countries, the rail infrastructure is owned by the government. Just like aviation, roads, and waterways are. And it's considered deserving of financial support just like those other modes of transportation.

Consider what China is doing with their railway system. They're adding more than 10,000 route miles. That's probably the biggest railway expansion in a century. That includes about 6,000 miles of high speed passenger rail (HSR). That's more miles of HSR, than the rest of the world combined.

Meanwhile, we just keep plucking along with the same broken policies.

sweller

join:2009-04-25
Los Alamos, NM
reply to Samsonian

Re: I see a lot of ignorance...

said by Samsonian:

said by sweller:

said by FastiBook:

... high speed trainsets ...
Ain't no such animal in this country. Not in *my* lifetime.
... and for HSR to happen throughout this country, ...
More to the point (or in addition to), we need an infrastructure. Something the freight lines, airlines, and trucking industry *DON'T* want. With very littlle exception, Amcrack runs on privately owned freight rails. The condition of which is the ultimate speed limit. The Coast Starlight (Beautiful train!) rarely gets about 75MPH, but is capable of 200+.


mking128

join:2005-08-10
College Point, NY
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

wi-fi on Amtrak's NE "express" trains

Hmmm .... I am going to IM my contacts in China about wi-fi status (or is it 3G+ or 4G) on their latest hi-speed train services between major cities launched recently. Something about top speed of 300 miles per hour and it won't spill that cup of coffee, tea or what not on the seatback tray. Of course, China's rail is running on newly built elevated rail tracks - no kids, animal crossings or stalled vehicles to get into its way - apparently, it's leaving Japan's bullet trains behind in dust if they're to compete ??

This is great considering the ticket prices paid for the Acela already and sure make it so much easier watching youtube on the move. Flying the NE air shuttle used to the preferred way back then with $49 OW fares between LGA-DCA in the pre-cellphone days.