Amtrak has announced an expansion of its free AmtrakConnectSM Wi-Fi service to 12 more East Coast routes. 60% of Amtrak passengers will now have free Wi-Fi access. Service is provided to trains via cellular data networks along the routes, and Amtrak is trying to maximize the use of existing infrastructure to expand Internet service on trains.

The high-speed Acela Express trains in the Northeast Corridor already have Wi-Fi service, as well as the Cascades line in the Pacific Northwest. By the end of 2011, Amtrak will expand Wi-Fi service to Amtrak California's state-supported trains, giving 75% of all Amtrak passengers onboard Wi-Fi.

Today's expansion includes the Northeast Regional trains between Virginia and Boston - Amtrak's most popular route - and the busy Empire and Keystone lines serving New York and Pennsylvania. Other routes getting Wi-Fi are Carolinian (New York - Raleigh/Cary, N.C.), Downeaster (Boston - Portland), Ethan Allen Express (New York - Rutland, Vt.), the New Haven - Springfield Shuttle and Vermonter (Washington - St. Albans, Vt.).

Four other routes - Adirondack (New York - Montreal), Maple Leaf (New York - Toronto), Palmetto (New York - Savannah, Ga.), and Pennsylvanian (New York - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh.) - also get some Wi-Fi service in this expansion, but only select cars will have the equipment for hotspots.

"We are committed to continuing to improve and expand this service as resources and technology allow," says Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak's VP for marketing and product development. Amtrak is in negotiations with cellular companies to expand service and take advantage of 4G speeds.

Photo credit: jpmueller99

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