Rail

Amtrak launches YouTube channel, expands Wi-Fi

Posted on February 17, 2011

Amtrak passengers have a new way to get information and share the unique experience of Amtrak train travel with Wednesday’s launch of the Amtrak YouTube channel.

The channel will feature videos with information on topics such as safety and security, the Trails & Rails program and the Amtrak vision for high-speed rail. In addition, there will be video from Amtrak employees on Amtrak journeys, customer experiences and travel tips.

“The YouTube channel provides us another way to visually communicate and engage with our customers and reach new audiences,” said Darlene Abubakar, director of national advertising at Amtrak.

The YouTube channel is Amtrak’s latest social media initiative. The Amtrak Facebook page was launched in 2008 and has more than 43,000 fans and the @Amtrak Twitter handle was added in 2010 and has more than 7,500 followers.

In addition to current information, special contests and promotions are offered exclusively through these tools such as the recent Facebook contest, “A Perfect Day on Amtrak,” where passengers shared their Amtrak experience for a chance to win free train travel.

Meanwhile, following its well-received introduction on high-speed Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington, D.C., and last month’s addition of AmtrakConnect on Amtrak Cascades trains in the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak has set the stage for further expansion of its on-board free Wi-Fi service in 2011.

Amtrak plans to install AmtrakConnect on Northeast Corridor services and on more West Coast trains by the end of this year. With the recent selection of Nomad Digital as its preferred technology provider for nationwide deployment, the Amtrak labor forces at the Ivy City Maintenance Facility in Washington, D.C. and the Penn Coach Yard in Philadelphia soon will begin installing Wi-Fi equipment in more than 450 Amfleet railcars.

In addition, Amtrak has now completed construction of a dedicated wireless network that significantly improves connectivity and delivers a true high-speed signal to trains while traveling through the New York tunnels and when stopped at the New York Penn Station platforms.

Future enhancements to the on-board Wi-Fi service offering include en-route entertainment options and real-time train position information so that passengers can track their journey’s progress. In addition, as cellular providers upgrade their backhaul technology and infrastructure, Amtrak plans to upgrade the part of its system that relies on 3G to one that also utilizes emerging 4G technologies such as LTE and WiMAX, greatly increasing the available bandwidth and improving the network’s performance for passengers.

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