American rail passengers can expect faster wi-fi onboard the Acela Express thanks to AmtrakConnect. The wi-fi which will operate six times faster than current services will be at no additional cost to the customer in a bid to improve productivity and passenger experience on their trains. At the moment 90% of Amtrack’s customers have access to free onboard wi-fi, but this technology has been in service since 2010. Amtrack have now replaced the six year old technology as part of their latest upgrade scheme. The Acela Express is the rail operator’s flagship route and high-speed rail link along the NorthEast Corridor connecting Washington DC and Boston. Last year the train route served more than 3.4 million passengers and made $585 million in ticket revenue. Officials said that the wireless system will be constructed from dedicated trackside networks rather than cellular-based networks. Amtrak is now working to implement the upgrades on the remainder of the Northeast Corridor fleet, including all Northeast Regional trains.
“This advanced technology solution shifts our onboard Wi-Fi experience into high gear, providing our Acela Express customers with a more satisfying and productive experience throughout their journey,” said Lenetta McCampbell, Senior Director of Passenger Experience at Amtrak. “After thorough testing, we are confident this upgrade will provide a significantly improved service from the moment our customers board the train to the moment they arrive at their destination.”
Amtrak ( @ ) - derived from America and track is North America’s intercity travel link and high-speed rail. In 2015, the huge rail operator served 30.8 million passengers and generated $2.185 billion in revenue, while employing more than 20,000 people. This represents the fifth straight year in which ridership has exceeded 30 million. Its most popular stations are New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Chicago. Despite these popular routes a poor network connectivity has been felt by many passengers. Acela trains can travel as fast as 150mph, making it difficult for handoffs between towers that offer spotty reception. Bridges and buildings along the route can also block signals.
However, passengers travelling on the 231 mile journey with a three hour and 40 minute sitting time will experience faster page downloads and improved connectivity to make the most of their journey. Last year Amtrak carried more riders between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined, so the better wifi connections hope to make their service even more appealing than air travel.
“Experience has shown that our customers will continue to place a significant and growing demand on high-bandwidth onboard Wi-Fi service,” McCampbell said. “These innovative solutions highlight our continued commitment to delivering the very best Wi-Fi service in terms of capacity, performance and operational reliability.”
It is predicted that between now and 2040, the population in the region will grow to 64 million - an increase of 23%. With these strains on the network’s infrastructure it is important that companies like Amtrak look ahead to deal with this demand - and the increased demand for wifi. Six of Amtrak’s busiest stations are in the Northeast Corridor, with New York and Washington ranked first and second for passenger traffic will tailor their wifi services to the growing consumer usage.
But this is not all Amtrak are doing to upgrade their networks. Earlier this year, the company expanded the availability of its Wi-Fi service, AmtrakConnect, to several eastern long-distance trains including the Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Service as well as the Auto Train last year. Additionally, in September, Vice President Biden announced that Amtrak had received a $2.45 billion loan to help pay for new trains, stations and track upgrades. The loan was the largest single loan provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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