Quantcast

Jump to content




Photo

Cell Phone Reception on Amtrak trains


45 replies to this topic

#1 DowneasterPassenger

DowneasterPassenger

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Portland Maine
  • Interests:Amtrak trains, Amtrak history, Amtrak Guest Rewards, Amtrak politics, Amtrak food, Amtrak stations, Amtrak photography, Amtrak model railroads.

Posted 14 August 2010 - 06:37 AM

Which routes have the best and the worst cell phone service?

Have you experienced extended dead spots, and where, and how long, and what carrier?

Does any cell phone carrier have particularly better or worse service for Amtrak trips?

#2 RyanS

RyanS

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,054 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:OTN
  • Interests:a fact checker combined with a ferret

Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:15 AM

In general, Verizon's got the widest coverage area, so they're going to be the best.

We have AT&T and had vast swaths of dead space on the EB and the CS through Vandenberg AFB.
TrainSig.jpg

#3 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,019 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:21 AM

I would suggest you check each carriers coverage map, and compare it with the Amtrak map. I cannot answer from experience, but my guess is that you would have coverage best in the most populated areas, and worst in rural mountainous or desert areas, unless they parallel an interstate highway.
In general, I believe Verizon is acknowledged to have the best coverage, with a few exceptions ("Rule The Air!").
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#4 amtrakwolverine

amtrakwolverine

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,977 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Warren MI
  • Interests:trains,music,guitars

Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:36 AM

I have tracfone and it worked well only had problems in Detroit on the wolverine even at the station no signal until right at royal oak. On the LSL coming back from the Boston gathering I don't remember which station but I had a signal but this one guy did not. Did loose signals out in the woods though when your away from the towers.

Edited by amtrakwolverine, 14 August 2010 - 09:36 AM.


#5 the_traveler

the_traveler

    Engineer

  • Global Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 20,287 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Penthouse Suite - here & there
  • Interests:Planning my next trip

Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:45 AM

I too have AT&T, but I did have Verizon a few years ago. Although I don't use my cell phone 24/7, I can get a signal on most routes anytime - with one BIG exception!Posted Image

On the EB, I could not get a reliable reception from before Glacier NP (when I woke up in the morning) in MT to Minot, ND!Posted Image This is almost a whole day! The best is the NEC - and most of it is 3G!Posted Image
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead!

#6 Guest_Guest_*

Guest_Guest_*
  • Guests

Posted 14 August 2010 - 10:34 AM

We have Sprint and had basically the same problem on the EB that the_traveler had, In addition while stopped outside the cascade tunnel for four hours due to a broken down freight no-one had service including the conductor who had to climb up a mountain side to the highway to be able to get cell AND radio reception! We were allowed to get off the train (unofficially!)for a fresh air/smoke break which surprised me due to the remoteness of the area but as always were told," Do NOT leave trainside!" :o

#7 dlagrua

dlagrua

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,937 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hillsborough, NJ
  • Interests:Skiing, Martial Arts, Knife Throwing, Car collecting, Train Travel, Visiting Historical sights, Cooking, Antiques, but above all love for friends and family.

Posted 14 August 2010 - 03:33 PM

There is ALWAYS somwhere on the line where cell service is good and others where there are weak signals. If you want to talk on the phone all day, its not going to happen but if you wish to make select calls its no problem. In the East the NE corridor has very good cewll service.

#8 Acela150

Acela150

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,024 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Norfolk, MA

Posted 14 August 2010 - 04:36 PM

I have Verizon and the EB was an issue through MT. On the SWC I got some good reception in the middle of no where. I would keeplooking for a tower but saw nothing. But I get it best on the NEC. Even in the NY Tunnels I have reception. Grant it it's very little but it's still service.
These posts are my views and opinions.

Frequent Acela Express,Northeast Regional and Keystone Service rider.

Donate your spare time! Be a Volunteer Firefighter!

#9 Guest_Guest_*

Guest_Guest_*
  • Guests

Posted 14 August 2010 - 04:57 PM

Motorola phones usually have the best reception. Combine it with Verizon or a carrier that has access to the Verizon network (Sprint, Page Plus, US Cellular, some Tracfone/Net10, ect)and you get a winning combination for voice and sms.

#10 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,019 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 14 August 2010 - 05:38 PM

We have Sprint and had basically the same problem on the EB that the_traveler had, In addition while stopped outside the cascade tunnel for four hours due to a broken down freight no-one had service including the conductor who had to climb up a mountain side to the highway to be able to get cell AND radio reception!



There is ALWAYS somwhere on the line where cell service is good and others where there are weak signals. If you want to talk on the phone all day, its not going to happen but if you wish to make select calls its no problem. In the East the NE corridor has very good cewll service.


It seems unsafe in this day and age to have a train with hundreds of lives totally out of communications in the event of trouble issues of many kinds--be it medical, crime, breakdown, or whatever. If there are spots with comm. 'dark territory', they need to be addressed. The building of cell tower, radio repeater, or even old lineside RR telephone boxes should be established.
If all else fails, locomotives should be provided with Iridium satellite phones, that do not depend on landbased cell towers.
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#11 Mackensen

Mackensen

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lehigh Valley

Posted 14 August 2010 - 06:19 PM

On the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited I had more or less no signal while in the Berkshires between Albany and Pittsfield. The Cumberland gap on the Capitol Limited is extremely inconsistent so it isn't worth trying. Otherwise the only other dead zone I've noted is, bizarrely, northern Indiana near Valpo. I've used both Sprint and AT&T.

Routes traveled: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, International Limited, Lake Cities, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Pere Marquette, Southwest Chief, Twilight Limited, Vermonter, Wolverine. Total miles 41,649+


#12 Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,616 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern Ohio
  • Interests:Golf, Historical and Genealogical research, Travel, Model Railroading. Lions Club & Anything Dealing With Trains

Posted 14 August 2010 - 06:48 PM

We have Alltel system phones and they are pretty reliable, especially since Verizon purchased part of the company. As everyone has suggested, if you are out in the middle of the desert or in Glacier National Park, you are on your own :unsure:

Amtrak Trains Ridden So Far:
Lake Shore Ltd, Capitol Ltd, Pennsylvanian, NE Corridors, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Hoosier, SW Chief, Surfliners, California Capitol Corridors, Coast Starlight, Cascades. Texas Eagle, San Joaquins, Missouri River Runner,Cardinal, Downeaster, Silver Meteor, Keystones, Auto Train, Adirondack, Lincoln Service, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Texas Eagle Detour Rt, Autumn Excursion Tour PHL, Silver Star,  -- 61,860  Amtrak miles & counting


#13 AlanB

AlanB

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 28,778 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, New York

Posted 14 August 2010 - 07:34 PM


We have Sprint and had basically the same problem on the EB that the_traveler had, In addition while stopped outside the cascade tunnel for four hours due to a broken down freight no-one had service including the conductor who had to climb up a mountain side to the highway to be able to get cell AND radio reception!



There is ALWAYS somwhere on the line where cell service is good and others where there are weak signals. If you want to talk on the phone all day, its not going to happen but if you wish to make select calls its no problem. In the East the NE corridor has very good cewll service.


It seems unsafe in this day and age to have a train with hundreds of lives totally out of communications in the event of trouble issues of many kinds--be it medical, crime, breakdown, or whatever. If there are spots with comm. 'dark territory', they need to be addressed. The building of cell tower, radio repeater, or even old lineside RR telephone boxes should be established.
If all else fails, locomotives should be provided with Iridium satellite phones, that do not depend on landbased cell towers.


Passengers may be without their precious cell phones at times while on board an Amtrak, but the train itself is almost never without communications in the form of the radio. Even some of the longer tunnels are wired for radio communications. There are few places in the US where an engineer cannot radio the dispatcher and request any type of emergency service.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#14 zephyr17

zephyr17

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,402 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington State

Posted 14 August 2010 - 07:51 PM

It seems unsafe in this day and age to have a train with hundreds of lives totally out of communications in the event of trouble issues of many kinds--be it medical, crime, breakdown, or whatever. If there are spots with comm. 'dark territory', they need to be addressed. The building of cell tower, radio repeater, or even old lineside RR telephone boxes should be established.
If all else fails, locomotives should be provided with Iridium satellite phones, that do not depend on landbased cell towers.

In railroad terms, all "dark" means is a line is not signaled, just controlled by dispatchers by radio. As AlanB pointed, the RR's radio is available everywhere along the line. If it there is an area of bad reception due to geography, the railroad puts in repeaters, and they run antenna lines in the tunnels. If the conductor's handset isn't powerful enough in a certain area, he can radio to the engineer and the engineer's more powerful transmitter in the cab will work.

Chill, dude. And don't get your facts from a bad movie ("Dark Territory").

Edited by zephyr17, 14 August 2010 - 07:53 PM.

SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr, Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-Orlando), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Hoosier State, Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), KTX

#15 Guest_Jim R_*

Guest_Jim R_*
  • Guests

Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:07 AM


It seems unsafe in this day and age to have a train with hundreds of lives totally out of communications in the event of trouble issues of many kinds--be it medical, crime, breakdown, or whatever. If there are spots with comm. 'dark territory', they need to be addressed. The building of cell tower, radio repeater, or even old lineside RR telephone boxes should be established.
If all else fails, locomotives should be provided with Iridium satellite phones, that do not depend on landbased cell towers.

In railroad terms, all "dark" means is a line is not signaled, just controlled by dispatchers by radio. As AlanB pointed, the RR's radio is available everywhere along the line. If it there is an area of bad reception due to geography, the railroad puts in repeaters, and they run antenna lines in the tunnels. If the conductor's handset isn't powerful enough in a certain area, he can radio to the engineer and the engineer's more powerful transmitter in the cab will work.

Chill, dude. And don't get your facts from a bad movie ("Dark Territory").


My daughter just took a train from Boston to Haverhill MA. She couldn't get a signal with her Net10 phone until she got off the train in Haverhill. She was then able to call me for a ride. I don't know any possible solution to that problem. I just know it sucks.

#16 AlanB

AlanB

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 28,778 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, New York

Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:20 AM



It seems unsafe in this day and age to have a train with hundreds of lives totally out of communications in the event of trouble issues of many kinds--be it medical, crime, breakdown, or whatever. If there are spots with comm. 'dark territory', they need to be addressed. The building of cell tower, radio repeater, or even old lineside RR telephone boxes should be established.
If all else fails, locomotives should be provided with Iridium satellite phones, that do not depend on landbased cell towers.

In railroad terms, all "dark" means is a line is not signaled, just controlled by dispatchers by radio. As AlanB pointed, the RR's radio is available everywhere along the line. If it there is an area of bad reception due to geography, the railroad puts in repeaters, and they run antenna lines in the tunnels. If the conductor's handset isn't powerful enough in a certain area, he can radio to the engineer and the engineer's more powerful transmitter in the cab will work.

Chill, dude. And don't get your facts from a bad movie ("Dark Territory").


My daughter just took a train from Boston to Haverhill MA. She couldn't get a signal with her Net10 phone until she got off the train in Haverhill. She was then able to call me for a ride. I don't know any possible solution to that problem. I just know it sucks.


Get her a different cell phone and/or cell phone company.

I have AT&T and not only did I have voice service pretty much the entire way between Portland & Boston, I was able to get online using my cell phone as a modem for my computer.

Not suggesting that solves things for every train in every spot, but on the Downeaster between Boston & Haverhill there is pleny of cell service in that area. So the problem is either the phone and/or the company.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#17 TraneMan

TraneMan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 964 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rochester, MN
  • Interests:I enjoy the outdoors, camping, hiking, and being with my family and friends.

Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:23 AM

I am expecting not to have cell service on our trip on the EB here and there.. I am just going to set up my voice mail saying, "Thanks for calling. I am on vacation, and will not be answering my phone. Please leave a message, and I will get back to you when I have a chance." then my cell will be shut off, and going to enjoy the trip!
 

Amtrak Train travel.

Empire Builder 15,753
Silver Meteor = 668
Capital Limited = 780
Hiawatha Service = 172

Cascade = 312
Lincoln Service= 640 
 
Total = 18,325

 

Routes completed

Empire Builder 7 and 8.

Capital Limited 29.

Hiawatha. 
 
First travel was 1990.

(updated 7/16/14)


#18 Lamar

Lamar

    Train Attendant

  • Training
  • Pip
  • 44 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Texas

Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:04 AM

I've lost signal before when the railroad diverges from the highway and goes through heavy forest, a canyon, etc.

Trains I've Ridden: Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited, Heartland Flyer, City of New Orleans, Illini/Saluki

#19 jdcnosse

jdcnosse

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 471 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tucson

Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:45 PM

The cheaper cell phone companies (especially prepaid) are not going to have good traveling service...you get what you pay for. That being said I have a verizon phone and a virgin mobile phone. Haven't take a trip with the VM phone, but during my SWC trip with Verizon, only when we were going through the Raton Pass did I not have any service at all.
Trains I've been on so far:
Round-trip: International Limited (LNS to TWO), Pere Marquette (GRR to CHI), Southwest Chief (CHI to FLG), Blue Water (CHI to KAL)

One-way: Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited (CHI to LVW, FTW to TUS), Ambus (LVW to FTW)
Miles traveled on Amtrak: 15,044 mi

#20 Peter KG6LSE

Peter KG6LSE

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 354 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:WilsonVille OR 20 Min From PDX
  • Interests:automation apps Eng tech

Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:41 PM

I have lost only a few calls on VZW . On the SWC I have good Sig and the CZ the same . the CS is spotty due to woods .

I to had zippo in Raton . but just about every where else I had some thing .

Peter



Reply to this topic



  


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users