Amtrak news release, 6/2/2010:FREE Wi-Fi ® NOW STANDARD ON ACELA EXPRESS
Amtrak plans to improve existing service, expand to additional routes
WASHINGTON – Based on a successful three-month trial run, strong customer satisfaction and solid system performance, Amtrak is making free Wi-Fi ® a standard service offering for every passenger traveling on its high-speed Acela Express trains operating between Washington, D.C. and Boston and is moving forward with plans to expand it to other routes.
Known as AmtrakConnect, the Wi-Fi service has been delivering fast, reliable and consistent connectivity to Amtrak customers since March 1 when the trial program began. Recent on-board surveys reveal that about 115,000 Acela Express passengers per month have logged-on, or about 39 percent of ridership. In addition, 76 percent of those polled had a favorable or strongly favorable opinion of the service and with overall system performance.
“We’ve had tremendous positive passenger response to having Wi-Fi available onboard and keeping it free of charge will support increased ridership growth,” said Matt Hardison, Amtrak Chief, Sales Distribution and Customer Service, noting planned upgrades to the existing service include increased bandwidth to allow for greater access to video files.
Amtrak also is announcing plans to expand Wi-Fi service to other routes contingent on available funding. To advance this goal, Amtrak has just issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for vendors to identify, procure, install and maintain Wi-Fi on its fleet nationwide, including for: its remaining passenger equipment in the northeast, the Northeast Regional service; for long-distance, overnight trains; and for passenger equipment used in corridor services across the U.S. This work is expected to begin by late fall 2010 and will start with Amtrak California services routes, followed by the Northeast Regional service.
With the exception of Acela Express, Amtrak trains do not operate with a fixed set of passenger cars. As such, the Wi-Fi solution selected by the RFP process must be able to function in different train configurations including when cars of different types (i.e., coach, diner, and sleeper) are mixed together, when individual cars are switched between different trains, and when groups of cars from one train are split from, or connected to, another train while en route.
In addition, AmtrakConnect is available for all Amtrak passengers within the gate areas of Washington Union Station, Baltimore Penn Station, Wilmington Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, New York Penn Station, Providence Station and Route 128 Station in Boston. Wi-Fi service continues to be available in all ClubAcela lounges in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.About Amtrak
As the nation’s intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. Last fiscal year (FY 2009), the railroad carried 27.2 million passengers, making it the second-best year in the company’s history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day—at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph)—to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the partner of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for several commuter rail agencies. Visit Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.
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