Amtrak Wi-Fi (WiFi) Availability

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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artman
Posts: 457
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 12:07 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by artman »

jstolberg wrote:Good news! October Wi-fi rollout will be on all Northeast Regional trains and also
Empire Service
Ethan Allen Express
Keystone Service
Springfield Shuttles
Vermonter and
Carolinian

November Wi-fi will be complete on the
Capitol Corridor
San Joaquin
Pacific Surfliner

And by the end of 2011
Auto Train lounge cars.
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobServe ... Report.pdf page 9
It is great to see such prompt results from our discussion :P

jamesinclair
Posts: 2251
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:22 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by jamesinclair »

Funny, I came to the forum to report that on my San Joaquin train, various wifi access points were available, but I couldnt get online.

michaelk
Posts: 434
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:53 am

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by michaelk »

Anyone know how the systems work? I assume they just connect to ATT or Verizon 3G/2g?

Is the equipment set up to get LTE as that coverage expands?

afiggatt
Posts: 1447
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:41 am
Location: Sterling, VA

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by afiggatt »

jamesinclair wrote:Funny, I came to the forum to report that on my San Joaquin train, various wifi access points were available, but I couldnt get online.
The Wi-Fi hubs have been showing up on the NE Regionals and other Amfleet I cars in the east for months. You can see the Wi-Fi link, but they are password blocked. All it means is that a Wi-Fi hub has been installed in the car, but it may not be connected to anything yet.

As for the technology, the service provider is Nomad Digital. The router is placed in the café or club car and can access multiple cell phone providers, whoever Amtrak has deals with and how ever many simultaneous 3G/4G connections the router was equipped to provide. The Wi-Fi hubs in each car are connected to the router. The routers will also provide GPS information which Amtrak is planning to use to provide train status and a moving location map. The Nomad Digital website and press release about the deal with Amtrak earlier this year is at http://www.uknomad.com/press-amtrak-sel ... s-102.html . Under Products -> On Vehicle Equipment is info on their router products.

jamesinclair
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Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:22 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by jamesinclair »

afiggatt wrote:The Wi-Fi hubs in each car are connected to the router. The routers will also provide GPS information which Amtrak is planning to use to provide train status and a moving location map.
Does amtrak california already have this?

At each station, the PA reminds patrons about the arrival time constantly.

Train 701 will arrive at 6:14
Train 701 will arrive at 6:16
Train 701 will arive at 6:17
We apologize for the delay caused by train congestion
Train 701 will arive at 6:15

justalurker66
Posts: 2347
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by justalurker66 »

Unfortunately train location is only part of the data when it comes to predicting arrivals. A GPS location can help predict the minimum expected time for a train to arrive but it doesn't show when the train will get clear signals between wherever it is and the station. Even if one says the train is at a location where it should have been 30 minutes ago and is moving it doesn't mean the train will be 30 minutes late. It could easily be stopped by the next signal.

GPS is nice on a contained system where there are short headways or no other trains to conflict but more information needs to be mixed in before using it as an arrival predictor for Amtrak. Perhaps it will help as a "big brother" keeping an eye on trains from national headquarters ... watching for where they seem to get stopped regularly (where the host railroad can be contacted with data in hand and asked for an explanation) or watching for excessive speed when making up delays ... but for a minute by minute estimate of when the train will arrive one needs to know what the dispatchers (especially if on a host freight line) will be doing with that train.

afiggatt
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Location: Sterling, VA

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by afiggatt »

justalurker66 wrote:GPS is nice on a contained system where there are short headways or no other trains to conflict but more information needs to be mixed in before using it as an arrival predictor for Amtrak. Perhaps it will help as a "big brother" keeping an eye on trains from national headquarters ... watching for where they seem to get stopped regularly (where the host railroad can be contacted with data in hand and asked for an explanation) or watching for excessive speed when making up delays ... but for a minute by minute estimate of when the train will arrive one needs to know what the dispatchers (especially if on a host freight line) will be doing with that train.
I think jamesinclair and you mis-understood what I meant when I mentioned the GPS feature in the Wi-Fi router. Amtrak intends to provide GPS location information and moving map displays to passengers on the train with browsers using the free Wi-Fi for internet access and if I interpret the FY12 business plan correctly, on-board automated announcement & signs. Amtrak also plans to provide paid media delivery (movies, music, games) via the Wi-Fi system for an additional revenue stream.

Don't know if Amtrak is planning to use the Wi-Fi router connection to provide train location information back to HQ and the control centers. Not all trains will have them for a while and the Wi-Fi connections will not be all that reliable. To monitor the locations of the trains in real-time across the US, a better approach would be to place a GPS receiver into each locomotive with a more robust wireless data link than cell phones. If the concept is to, say, provide a update once a minute with train location, speed, number, maybe some info on engine health & fuel status if they can tie into that information, they don't need a high bandwidth 3G link. A satellite or radio link can handle that data stream. The airlines now routinely have real-time data links between their airplanes and the company commercial control center, separate from the FAA and air traffic control system. I would imagine that Amtrak is working on or developing a similar capability, if they have not started to add it already.

Cadet57
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Location: Chicopee, Ma

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by Cadet57 »

michaelk wrote:Anyone know how the systems work? I assume they just connect to ATT or Verizon 3G/2g?

Is the equipment set up to get LTE as that coverage expands?
LTE has nothing to do with WiFi.

jamesinclair
Posts: 2251
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:22 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by jamesinclair »

Cadet57 wrote:
michaelk wrote:Anyone know how the systems work? I assume they just connect to ATT or Verizon 3G/2g?

Is the equipment set up to get LTE as that coverage expands?
LTE has nothing to do with WiFi.
Yes it does. Amtrak will connect to the cell network connection and then broadcast that connection over wifi.

LTE/Wimax are many times faster than 3G, allowing more users and better internet experience.

I'd hope the equipment they are buying now is 4G capable. While the 4G networks are still small today, they are growing rapidly.
Last edited by jamesinclair on Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

justalurker66
Posts: 2347
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by justalurker66 »

afiggatt wrote:Amtrak intends to provide GPS location information and moving map displays to passengers on the train with browsers using the free Wi-Fi for internet access and if I interpret the FY12 business plan correctly, on-board automated announcement & signs.
So the login/terms of service default page will be a "what's out your window" page? It could be interesting. It would need to be something that people could get back to ... give people a memorable URL to surf to after leaving the intercept page.

If there is special content to buy and view I hope it is stored on the trains to prevent burning up the bandwidth and having dropouts and buffering when the cell signal is lost. I'd hate to buy a movie on a train and have it interrupted by network outages.
afiggatt wrote:To monitor the locations of the trains in real-time across the US, a better approach would be to place a GPS receiver into each locomotive with a more robust wireless data link than cell phones.
There are plenty of truck tracking systems that would work on trains ... and telemetry systems that use little Leo satellites for connectivity. The offer to allow Amtrak to use the "backhaul" connectivity put in place for wi-fi seems like something the provider could offer as "something else this will do for you". If the only thing Amtrak wanted was tracking I'd go a different way ... but if the backhaul for wi-fi is there it might as well be used.

BuddSilverliner269
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:40 am
Location: Trenton Line MP 30.70

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by BuddSilverliner269 »

nomis wrote:The cab cars have the same roof mount antennas as the cafe's. I have a few pics showing that but i don't think they're uploaded yet.
Oddly enough, I never took notice of the same roof mounts being on the cab cars until you posted this and I concur with you that all cabs now have those fittings.

Gilbert B Norman
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Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Chicago Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

After reviewing many of the posts made here at this topic, I think it is evident that the author is this Opinion piece appearing in Saturday's New York Times makes valid points:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/opini ... rally.html

Brief passage:

  • WITH Apple widely expected to release its iPhone 5 on Tuesday, Apple addicts across the world are getting ready for their latest fix. But should we really characterize the intense consumer devotion to the iPhone as an addiction? A recent experiment that I carried out using neuroimaging technology suggests that drug-related terms like “addiction” and “fix” aren’t as scientifically accurate as a word we use to describe our most cherished personal relationships. That word is “love.”

ApproachMedium
Posts: 5967
Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 9:44 pm
Location: From here to There

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by ApproachMedium »

Currently amtrak is using Verizon to provide the internet connection to the wifi service. They have already been using VZW for the Acela wifi, and for our locomotive tracking/fault/event reporting system for quite a number of years now. The GPS location for the companies purpose will finally provide amtrak maintenance centers with real time data on a specific cars location, as long as said car is in a consist with a cab car or Cafe. Eventually the Amfleets can have their hot journal, wheelslide, toilet, and HVAC systems tied in to a local CMU that can report back over the Wifi to the cell system a cars electronic and mechanical defects. Right now all of the locomotives can do this except the DC meatballs. The DC meatballs just give us basic info, location, speed, etc.
No good deed goes unpunished.

Tadman
Posts: 9830
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by Tadman »

Yesterday at CUS I tried to access the internetz on my iPhone. When standing by track 8 (south concourse, mid-pack) it alerted me that there were 3-4 wireless networks available, all starting with name NRPC_____. Most of the sheep in the building likely have no idea NRPC happens to be the alter-ego of the owner, Amtrak.
Dig the new rr.net Instagram account: @railroad_dot_net

ApproachMedium
Posts: 5967
Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 9:44 pm
Location: From here to There

Re: This Wi-Fi Stuff

Post by ApproachMedium »

NRPC owns the amtrak trademark, and no, very very few know this! Its fun telling someone you work for the NRPC. Oh what's that? Nothing just some huge nationwide carrier in the US.

Oh kinda like Amtrak?

::facepalm::
No good deed goes unpunished.

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