Following its well-received introduction on high-speed Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington, D.C., and last month’s addition of AmtrakConnect® on Amtrak Cascades trains in the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak has set the stage for further expansion of its popular on-board free Wi-Fi service in 2011.
Amtrak plans to install AmtrakConnect on Northeast Corridor services and on more West Coast trains by the end of this year. With the recent selection of Nomad Digital as its preferred technology provider for nation-wide deployment, the Amtrak labor forces at the Ivy City Maintenance Facility in Washington, D.C., and the Penn Coach Yard in Philadelphia soon will begin installing Wi-Fi equipment in more than 450 Amfleet® railcars.
In addition, Amtrak has now completed construction of a dedicated wireless network that significantly improves connectivity and delivers a true high-speed signal to trains while traveling through the New York tunnels and when stopped at the New York Penn Station platforms.
“In this digital age, it is more vital than ever that our customers have Internet connectivity while traveling,” said Emmett Fremaux Jr., Amtrak Vice President of Marketing & Product Development. “Through this expansion program, and coupled with our dedication to the continued improvement of this innovative product offering, Amtrak is prepared to meet this need.”
Amtrak already provides amenities that give passengers a more relaxed travel experience than its competitors can offer, such as wider seats, ample legroom, at-seat power outlets on most services, and the ability to move about the train. By adding free Wi-Fi as a permanent service Amtrak is using leading-edge technology to handle the next-generation needs of its passengers.
“Nomad provides Internet links to trains around the world. This Amtrak contract ensures that trains in the USA will be among the best connected anywhere,” said Nigel Wallbridge, Nomad’s Executive Chairman.
Future enhancements to the on-board Wi-Fi service offering include en-route entertainment options and real-time train position information so that passengers can track their journey’s progress. In addition, as cellular providers upgrade their backhaul technology and infrastructure, Amtrak plans to upgrade that part of its system that relies on 3G to one that also utilizes emerging 4G technologies such as LTE and WiMAX, greatly increasing the available bandwidth and improving the network’s performance for passengers.