Travel Bulletin - - RAIL JOURNEYS -

THE rise of the in­ter­net has led to de­mands from trav­ellers across the globe for con­nec­tiv­ity, and rail op­er­a­tors have taken on the chal­lenge with the avail­abil­ity of on-board wi-fi on many train routes, al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to keep in touch 24/7 no mat­ter where they are in the world. In­ter­net con­nec­tions on trains are nat­u­rally pop­u­lar with the cor­po­rate mar­ket who can keep work­ing door to door, while leisure trav­ellers also en­joy the abil­ity to use so­cial net­works, surf the in­ter­net and even plan their next trip. US rail op­er­a­tor Am­trak of­fers free on­board wi-fi to its guests on many ser­vices, with a ma­jor up­grade of its sys­tems an­nounced ear­lier this year which of­fers in­ter­net ac­cess to more than 90% of cus­tomers. The Am­trak­con­nect ser­vice is now avail­able on long-dis­tance ser­vices such as the Car­di­nal (New York - Washington D.C. - Cin­ci­natti - In­di­anapo­lis - Chicago), the Cres­cent (New York - At­lanta - New Or­leans), the Lake Shore Lim­ited (New York - Bos­ton - Al­bany - Chicago) and the Sil­ver Ser­vice (New York - Washington D.C. - Charleston - Sa­van­nah - Jack­sonville - Or­lando - Tampa/mi­ami). The Eurostar train be­tween Lon­don and Paris and on­wards into Europe also keeps cus­tomers con­nected along the route – even in the Chan­nel Tun­nel – as it speeds across bor­ders and time­zones. Free on­board wi-fi is avail­able be­tween Lon­don and Paris, and is pro­gress­ing to other routes as new and re­fur­bished car­riages roll out. Some TGV ser­vices in France also of­fer broad­band con­nec­tions for a fee. In Ja­pan the Jr-west rail ser­vice which jour­neys from Ky­oto to Hakata launched a free hotspot ser­vice in March this year. In­ter­na­tional trav­ellers must present their pass­port at the sta­tion in or­der to ob­tain an ac­cess code which is valid for 8 days, and pro­vides ac­cess at most sta­tions on the net­work. The Haruka air­port ex­press train to Kan­sai also of­fers wi-fi through­out the cabin. An­other op­tion to stay con­nected dur­ing rail travel is to use a wi-fi “don­gle” or a teth­ered smart­phone. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of 4G con­nec­tiv­ity means this is likely to be the way of the fu­ture, and there are many providers who will sell or rent a SIM card suit­able for trav­ellers. And of course, on a train wher­ever there is a sig­nal avail­able, these de­vices will pro­vide ac­cess.

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