Amtrak officials say a recent upgrade will mean faster WiFi for passengers on its popular Acela Express trains.
“This advanced technology solution shifts our onboard WiFi experience into high gear, providing our Acela Express customers with a more satisfying and productive experience throughout their journey,” Lenetta McCampbell, senior director of passenger experience at Amtrak, said in a news release announcing the change. “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 officials said speeds will be up to six times faster. As part of the shift, officials said they’ve replaced technology put into place in 2010. They said upgrades also are coming to all Northeast Regional trains, although they did not offer a timeline for when those would be complete.
Spotty WiFi service has been a longtime beef for travelers along the busy Northeast Corridor. As one frustrated passenger told the New York Times, “It’s like dial-up pretending to be WiFi. You almost expect to hear that sound that AOL used to make when you logged in.”
Officials said the second phase of the project will involve continued construction of a dedicated trackside wireless network, which will mean trains will have to depend less on cellular-based networks.
Upgraded WiFi is just one of a number of upgrades the passenger railroad service has planned for the busy corridor.
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 given by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Demographers project that between 2010 and 2040, the population in the corridor will grow to 64 million, an increase of roughly 23 percent. Six of Amtrak’s busiest stations are in the Northeast Corridor, considered the crown jewel of the railroad’s operations, with New York and Washington ranked first and second for passenger traffic.