Amtrak and California Rail Partners Launch Free Wi-Fi
Responding to customer demand, Amtrak and its California passenger rail partners are today launching free Wi-Fi service on all three state-supported routes. The launch coincides with “Cyber Monday,” the busiest Internet holiday shopping day of the year, allowing passengers onboard to shop online.
Using any laptop computer or Wi-Fi enabled device, passengers traveling on the Capitol Corridor (Auburn-Sacramento-Emeryville/SF-Oakland-San Jose), San Joaquin (Sacramento-Oakland-Bakersfield), and Pacific Surfliner (San Diego- LA-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo) trains now can connect to the Internet through AmtrakConnectSM for general Web surfing and using e-mail. Passengers also can use the Wi-Fi service to access corporate networks through most standard Virtual Private Networks (VPN), turning train trips into productive work time.
California state passenger rail agencies funded the implementation of Wi-Fi by reinvesting cost savings from prior completed rail projects, further improving the attractiveness of this green travel mode.
In Amtrak’s fiscal year 2011, more than 5.5 million passengers rode the three California state-supported trains, up about 7.5 percent over the previous year. California ridership represents nearly 20 percent of all Amtrak passengers. Wi-Fi service has been the most requested amenity by passengers using these trains and experience on other WiFi-enabled intercity routes indicates that more people are enticed to travel on WiFi-enabled trains.
“Free Wi-Fi is our early holiday gift to loyal train passengers who have wanted this service for some time,” said Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Managing Director David Kutrosky.
“Adding another great onboard amenity like Wi-Fi makes travel by train even more attractive."
"Our customers can now make their travel mode choice based on which mode is more productive or entertaining, soon making these trains the preferred means of interregional travel.”
While Wi-Fi service has long been a priority for Amtrak, the biggest obstacle to providing Internet connectivity on trains is the limited bandwidth available through third-party cellular data networks along many routes, which provides the backhaul connection for on-board Wi-Fi. Amtrak is continuing to explore ways to expand that coverage through talks with cellular companies. Importantly, the AmtrakConnect technology is designed in a way that enables it to take advantage of technology improvements such as faster 4G speeds, as they become available along the routes.
“We’re taking maximum advantage of the existing infrastructure to offer Wi-Fi service to our passengers,” says Lenetta McCampbell, Amtrak senior director of on board systems. “And we’re poised to improve upon those offerings rapidly as the networks we tap into advance.”
As a result of today’s launch of Wi-Fi on the California state-supported routes, trains that carry nearly 75 percent of all Amtrak passengers across the country now have Wi-Fi connections. Wi-Fi service is already available on high-speed Acela Express trains and 12 other East Coast routes as well as on the Amtrak Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest.
Celebrating 40 years of dedicated service as America’s Railroad®, Amtrak is the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator. A record 30.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2011 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies. Enjoy the journeysm at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at twitter.com/Amtrak
About Capitol Corridor
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) partners with Amtrak, Union Pacific Railroad, Caltrans and the communities comprising the CCJPA to offer intercity passenger rail service in Northern California. The Capitol Corridor route serves 16 stations along a 170-mile rail corridor between the Sierra Foothills, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley/San Jose. For information, visit capitolcorridor.org or call 1-877-974-3322; join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/capitolcorridor; and follow us on twitter at twitter.com/capitolcorridor.