Amtrak Debuts Wireless Internet Service

Three Amtrak trains equipped with free wireless Internet service rolled out of stations Wednesday morning in joint effort between the railroad, Yahoo! and Compaq. The service is available on Amtrak’s three most popular services for business travelers: the Acela Regional in the Northeast Corridor, the Capitols in Northern California, and the Hiawathas in the Midwest.

On each of the three train lines, Amtrak has mounted Compaq iPAQ Pocket PCs with Yahoo! providing the wireless connections. The Acela and the Capitals have five of the units installed and the Hiawatha has four. Amtrak also offers electrical outlets for laptops throughout the trains, but the interactive service is available in only one car per train. The test service is scheduled for at least six months.

“From Amtrak trains, to commuter planes in Japan, and wired taxis in New York, our latest program is a visible extension of Yahoo!’s commitment to distribute Yahoo! services through a range of traditional and non-traditional vehicles and give consumers everything they need to communicate and organize their lives everywhere they go,” said Christopher Wu, Wireless Yahoo, Yahoo! Inc. “Amtrak trains connect their guests on the go with the nation’s top destinations, and now Yahoo! can go with them.”

Passengers aboard the Internet trains are able to surf the Web in addition to having acces to many of Yahoo!’s more popular services including e-mail, news, weather and ports. There are no additional fares or fees associated with the Yahoo! Internet train or use of onboard Internet access.

Amtrak spokesperson Karina Van Veen told that the railroad decided to launch wireless onboard technology after a number of commuters requested the service.

Cyndi Darlington, Amtrak’s assistant vice president for Sales and Marketing, added “Joining with Yahoo! is a perfect match for Amtrak. More and more people are choosing to travel by train, and by combining the experience with the latest technology we are making the train an even more productive and stress-free way to travel.”

The Acela Regional offers service between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The Capitols ha service between Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose while the Hiawatha connects downtown Chicago to downtown Milwaukee. Each day, approximately 65,000 guests travel on Amtrak.

“Compaq is always working to develop innovative products that provide access to the Web anytime, anywhere through a multitude of devices,” said Kyle Ranson, vice president marketing and strategy, Access Business Group, Compaq Computer Corp. . “We are thrilled to work with Yahoo! and Amtrak on this ground-breaking project to deliver the power of the Internet to trains serving some of Amtrak’s most popular routes for business travelers.”

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