Wi-Fi Coming to Hiawatha Service Trains

Wi-Fi is coming to Hiawatha Service trains between Chicago and Milwaukee. Amtrak and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently signed an agreement to add Wi-Fi to the route.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that WisDOT will spend $300,000 to cover three-fourths of the cost of adding Wi-Fi to the Hiawatha route..

Spokesman Marc Magliari said Wi-Fi is available to about three-fourths of Amtrak rides in the United States, but only some Chicago-St. Louis trains now have it. Trains between Chicago and Michigan points are scheduled to get Wi-Fi in early 2014.

Magliari said Amtrak’s Wi-Fi provider combines cell-based service from several carriers. It provides general Web browsing but does not allow large downloads or live streaming.

Neither Wis DOT nor Amtrak would say when the service will begin.

Magliari said Amtrak is working with other Midwest states to bring Wi-Fi to the rails and would have details on that sometime after Thanksgiving.

Amtrak expects the Wi-Fi service to increase ridership. Currently, AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi is available primarily aboard trains in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and in California.

The Wisconsin agreement calls for Amtrak to make Wi-Fi service available in 17 cars used in the Hiawatha  service.

The $400,000 cost will be shared between Wisconsin and Illinois in a 75 to 25 percent ratio. The service is expected to cost $86,500 a year.

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