updated 01:30 pm EST, Thu January 14, 2010
Amtrak to launch free Wi-Fi in some trains
Commuter train operator Amtrak on Thursday said it will begin offering free Wi-Fi service, at least initially, on its Acela trains that carry passengers between Boston, New York and Washington. The move is the latest in the company's bid to entice business travelers to take the train rather than fly. The service will launch in March.
Amtrak's Acela express service travels in 2 hours and 50 minutes from New York to Washington, which means uninterrupted Internet access, unlike on a similar flight that requires surfers to turn off their devices during takeoffs and landings. The plan is to add the service to Northeast regional trains next, and eventually, other markets than the East Coast.
However, offering an alternative to short-hop East coast flights from Delta and US Airways is only part of the reason for the new service, says Amtrak spokesperson Cliff Cole. The rail operator is also trying to introduce new ways that will bring more customers and profits.
While when the free service will stop and what it will then cost is unknown, but it may be close to what Delta airlines charges. For flights under 1.5 hours, the fee is just under $5, and nearly $13 for trips longer than three hours. Users with Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones pay about $8. [via USAToday]