Train status via text message
Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:59 PM
All was well and good until various wireless carriers started charging TextMarks (the company whose free service I'm using) for sending these text messages. In response, TextMarks stopped supporting their free service for customers of Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile, Virgin, and Boost. So those who use one of those carriers aren't able to get the train status via text message. TextMarks has a paid service, which works for everyone, but their paid plans start at $19 per month, which is more than I want to spend. So a couple weeks ago, I started looking for a less expensive option that everyone can use. I'm happy to report that I have come up with something that should work for everyone, and it doesn't cost me a dime. (I'll give a brief summary of the technical workings of this new service at the end of this post, in case anyone is interested.)
To use the new service, simply send a text message to 401-268-7251 (that's 401-AMTRAK-1 ) containing [station code] [train number]. (Note that you don't include amtrakstatus in the message.) For example, pdx 14 will give you the status of the northbound Coast Starlight in Portland. Or you could also send 14 pdx, the order doesn't matter. Also, capitalization doesn't matter - you can use pdx, PDX, pDx or whatever.
The 41411 service will continue to operate, so you can use whichever one you prefer. Let me know if you have any problems with either service.
Boring technical stuff: I obtained the 401-AMTRAK-1 phone number from the free Google Voice service. One of the features that Google Voice provides is the ability to send and receive text messages. You can also forward any text messages you receive to an email address, which is how I have things set up. I then wrote a Windows Service that runs on my computer that monitors the email account for new messages. I'm using IMAP, so I get an instant notification that there's a new message. Whenever a new message arrives, the program looks up the train status on Amtrak's website, and sends a text message reply via Google Voice.
Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:25 PM
EDIT: Text sent at 10:26 without google voice (straight from my virgin mobile phone) and got a reply back immediately with the accurate info from amtrak.com.
Edited by jdcnosse, 04 September 2011 - 09:28 PM.
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
Posted 05 September 2011 - 08:16 AM
Thanks for the update.
Posted 05 September 2011 - 09:05 AM
Silver Meteor WAS-WPB (RT) 2/11, Empire builder FAR-CHI (RT) 3/12, CL CHI-WAS 4/12
SM WAS-WPB 4/12, SM WPB-NYP 4/12, LSL NYP-CHI 4/12, EB CHI-FAR 4/12, EB FAR-CHI 4/13, CL CHI-WAS 4/13
SM WAS-WPB 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 4/13, LSL NYP-CHI 4/13, EB CHI-FAR 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 2/14, LSL NYP-CHI 2/14
EB CHI-FAR 2/14, EB FAR-CHI 2/14, CZ CHI-DEN 2/14
Miles as of Feb 2014......23, 279', Future Plans....Coast Starlight and SW Chief
Posted 07 September 2011 - 09:10 PM
Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:57 AM
Posted 17 October 2011 - 11:13 AM
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Posted 11 October 2013 - 10:28 AM
TextMarks is discontinuing its free service on October 15, 2013, so after that date you will no longer be able to obtain train status via a text message to 41411.
The 401-AMTRAK-1 service will continue to provide train status. Send a text message to 401-AMTRAK-1 (401-268-7251) containing [station code] [train number]. (Note that you don't include amtrakstatus in the message.) For example, pdx 14 will give you the status of the northbound Coast Starlight in Portland. Or you could also send 14 pdx, the order doesn't matter. Also, capitalization doesn't matter - you can use pdx, PDX, Pdx or whatever.
Posted 24 June 2015 - 02:58 PM
I'd guess probably not, considering it has been so long since the last post.
Just a 19 year old with a love for the railroad.
Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Wolverine, Lake Shore Limited, Hiawatha, Lincoln Service,(Birthday Trip Next), Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr (5,640 Miles) END OF TRIP, Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Silver Star, Carolinian, Ethan Allen Express , Adirondack, Texas Eagle, VIA Rail Corridor Service (Toronto-Hamilton/Aldershot)
20,221 Miles By Rail...
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