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WIFI service on Amtrak


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#1 J. Alec West

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 03:32 AM

I live in Portland, Oregon. Two years ago and the year before that, I flew to Albany, NY - then took Amtrak's Adirondack line north to Port Henry. On both trips, there was no WIFI.

This year, I plan to go ALL THE WAY from Portland to Port Henry via Amtrak. And this year, I noticed that Amtrak's website indicates WIFI is now available for passengers on the Adirondack line. I honestly don't know how they "do it" (enable WIFI on a moving train). But I have a question. While Amtrak's website indicates WIFI availability on the Adirondack line, it's apparently not available on either the Empire Builder or Lake Shore Limited lines. Does anyone know if this is planned for the future on either-or-both lines ... and if so, how soon?

One related question. Coach cars on the Adirondack line are equipped with AC outlets for every row of seats (and on each side of the aisle). Is this also true for coach cars on the Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited lines?

Thanks in advance to all who reply.

Regards,
J. Alec West

#2 afigg

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:27 AM

This year, I plan to go ALL THE WAY from Portland to Port Henry via Amtrak. And this year, I noticed that Amtrak's website indicates WIFI is now available for passengers on the Adirondack line. I honestly don't know how they "do it" (enable WIFI on a moving train). But I have a question. While Amtrak's website indicates WIFI availability on the Adirondack line, it's apparently not available on either the Empire Builder or Lake Shore Limited lines. Does anyone know if this is planned for the future on either-or-both lines ... and if so, how soon?

One related question. Coach cars on the Adirondack line are equipped with AC outlets for every row of seats (and on each side of the aisle). Is this also true for coach cars on the Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited lines?

The WiFi on the Adirondack will only be available in the Amfleet I coach and café cars. The Amfleet II long distance coach cars which on normally on the Adirondack for the passengers going longer distances, such as New York Penn Station to Montreal will not have WiFi access. WiFi coverage could be very spotty in northern NY state anyway.

The WiFi system on the Amtrak trains has a router located in the café car that uses 3G/4G cell phone data links for communications. Each coach car has a WiFi hub that communicates through the router. If the train is in an area with poor 3G cell phone coverage and/or there are too many people trying to use the WiFi at the same time, you can get very slow connections. The single level Amfleet I cars used in the east and the California Surfliners were equipped with WiFi in the past year. The single level long distance Amfleet II cars used in the east and bi-level Superliner cars used in the west have not been upgraded with WiFi hubs and routers.

The project to upgrade the rest of the fleet to WiFi was dropped from the FY 2012 budget after the budget cuts. There is $13.5 million in the recently posted draft FY2013 budget to add WiFi to the long distance and Mid-West corridor trains. The earliest the LD trains could get WiFi is sometime in 2013, possibly later.

As for AC power outlets, you should be fine on the Lake Shore Limited and Adirondack as all the Amfleet I coach cars, and from the lack of complaints, all the Amfleet II coach cars now have power outlets at the seat. The Superliner coach cars have been getting power outlets added, but it not clear how many of the Superliner coach cars now have power outlets. Could be hit or miss on the Empire Builder for power outlets.

#3 NY Penn

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:24 PM

IIRC around 98% of Superliner coaches have outlets. So it shouldn't be an issue.

If you wind up in an outlet-less car, just ask to move to another one or go the SSL (SightSeer Lounge).
Visiting New York? Find out what to see and do in this thread.

#4 J. Alec West

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 03:28 AM

Thanks for the replies on AC outlets. I feel pretty confident I won't be without AC power for "too" long. BTW (pssst ... don't pass this on, hehe), every coach car has at least 2 AC outlets - somewhere - to accommodate crew members with custodial duties (vacuum cleaners, etc.). So, if you find yourself on a train without an AC outlet next to your seat, it doesn't mean you're without AC power altogether. It merely means you have to hunt down those 2 AC outlets (grin). Of course, if you stretched out a long extension cord to reach such an outlet, I'm certain eyebrows would raise (grin).

On WIFI access, I have a question. The Albany, NY Amtrak station has pretty good WIFI. And I'm certain other stations are WIFI-enabled. Does anyone know if there's a "list" of WIFI-enabled stations???

BTW, on my last trip from Albany to Port Henry on the Adirondack Line, I brought a "device" with me (in essence, a 2-watt bi-linear WIFI amplifier with a 9db antenna). It was my intention to use it in Port Henry (a small hamlet) to see if I could find a WIFI signal I could connect to. And, I did. But I couldn't resist the temptation of testing it on the train. Though the stops along the line between Albany and Port Henry are short stops, I was able to connect to a few WIFI nets to send/receive email. And, I'm bringing the device with me this year as well.
:rolleyes:
Regards,
J. Alec West

Edited by J. Alec West, 08 February 2012 - 03:32 AM.


#5 amamba

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 08:41 AM

http://www.amtrak.co...0/1237405732514
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Wi-Fi service available?
AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi is available on all Acela Express trains, in all ClubAcela lounges and inside the following stations:

Washington, DC - Union Station (WAS)
Baltimore, MD - Penn Station (BAL)
Wilmington, DE - Wilmington Station (WIL)
Philadelphia, PA - 30th Street Station (PHL)
New York, NY - Penn Station (NYP)
Providence, RI (PVD)
Westwood, MA - Route 128 (RTE)
Lorton, VA - Auto Train Only (LOR)
Sanford, FL - Auto Train Only (SFA)
-------------------------------------
This list I believe only shows stations that are owned/operated by amtrak. I am not sure if you will find a comprehensive list of stations with wifi available b/c a third party would need to compile it.

#6 J. Alec West

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:23 PM

http://www.amtrak.co...0/1237405732514


Thanks. However, I did find a more extensive list on Amtrak's site:

http://tinyurl.com/7l2wlfa (the Amtrak.com URL is real long)

And, that page lists a few 3rd-party WIFI suppliers. However, I suspect that list is woefully outdated. Albany, NY isn't listed and has free WIFI through Roadrunner. And Tampa, FL has WIFI through an unknown provider (but they charge for access). I just hope that someone at Amtrak can "think outside the box" to come up with WIFI solutions. Here's a couple of thoughts on possible solutions.

I still remember the "bad old days" (grin) when you couldn't get free WIFI in airports - even major airports. Nowadays, most airports of ANY size provide free WIFI as an adjunct to their business high-speed internet account - though routers/repeaters may throttle those free speeds somewhat. But, between the time when there was no WIFI and the time when there was free WIFI, there was a middle of the road solution that Amtrak might consider.

I remember sitting in an airport a few years ago. I flipped on my laptop, noticed an insecure WIFI net designated as the airport's, and opened my browser. Like my local library still does, the first screen I saw was an airport screen - telling me the access was free, but only if I agreed to the airport's policy (eg., illegal online activity was prohibited). And once I clicked the "I Agree" block and the "Continue" button, I was taken to a 2nd airport screen that showed an advertisement. In essence, the ad display "paid" for the access. Setting up such a logon scenario isn't rocket science (grin). But, it would require someone at the station to seek out and find advertisers willing to foot the bill in exchange for their ad(s) being displayed.

There's another non-free possibility. Locally, I could get slow (but steady) broadband internet for $19.95 a month ($25 after fees/taxes are added). What if a person went to a logon page and was told they could have that access for $1.00 per day (charged to VISA/MC)? A buck a day wouldn't break most people. The current CC interchange fee for an electronic transaction is 2.4% + 10 cents (rounded up, 13 cents). So, out of that dollar, the station would have a net profit of 87 cents. If only ONE PERSON A DAY purchased the service, the station would receive $26.10 a month. Take $25 (internet costs) away from that and the final monthly net profit would be $1.10 for the first customer per day - with a $26.10 net profit for each additional customer per day.

In short, such a scenario has the potential of turning a station's "cost we can't afford" into a "profit we can't ignore." Might not be a HUGE profit. But making any profit at all while, at the same time, providing a service customers value is usually a win-win situation.

Regards,
J. Alec West

Edited by J. Alec West, 09 February 2012 - 11:25 PM.


#7 Guest_Janice_*

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 11:24 AM

Does the empire builder from la crosse to Chicago have wireless internet

#8 NW cannonball

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 11:37 AM

no


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#9 montana mike

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:01 PM

With my tethered iPhone I have wi-fi about 75% of the time during my trips on the EB.   No service going thru GNP, quite spotty in Eastern MT, but after that the signal is usually good enough that I have reasonable service almost all the rest of the way thru to CHI.  On my trips on the LSL using my iPhone I have service the entire way to NY.



#10 tim49424

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 12:03 PM

Wi-fi coming soon to Michigan Services trains.


Over 20,000 miles traveled on Amtrak since December, 2007.  Next trip:  July 23-31 from Kalamazoo, MI to Portland, OR via Wolverine, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr and again the Wolverine.

Amtrak trains traveled on as of November, 2013:  Pere Marquette, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Wolverine


#11 chakk

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 10:30 PM

For those Superliner coaches that have not (yet) been upgraded to provide electrical outlets at every seat, you will at least one on the walls near seats 18 and 52.   There is usually a third outlet near the seat directly across from the stairwell opening.

 

Note that at times -- depending on how the seats are "turned" on the car, the outlet may be mostly blocked by the armrest of the seat next to it.

 

When I travel coach on Superliners, I also bring an extension cord or two with at least of them having a "low-profile" head, and a multigang busbar. I make it a point to share the electricity (using the extension cord(s) and/or busbar) with the passengers in the seats immediately in front of or behind mine -- assuming that I am in the seat immediately adjacent to the electrical outlet.   And if I wind up in a seat immediately in front of or behind the cherished seat, I politely ask the occupant if they would be willing to share the electricity with me using my extensions.

 

Never been denied, and many other passengers are quite happy to leave their smart phones, etc plugged into my busbar for an hour or two to recharge their batteries.



#12 Blackwolf

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 10:41 PM

Are there any of the non-converted coaches left?  I've not seen an Amtrak coach without the new outlet conversion in about four years.


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#13 jimhudson

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 10:50 PM

Are there any of the non-converted coaches left?  I've not seen an Amtrak coach without the new outlet conversion in about four years.

I havent run into any Coaches without the Plugs Lately!  But there still are some Older Un-Rennovated  Sight Seer Lounge Cars that Don't have Plugs @ Every Seat and Table!


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