Friday, May 17, 2013

Amtrak selects names for two new trains, upgrades Wi-Fi service

More than 1,200 people participated in a month-long survey to name two new Amtrak Cascades trains, which have been named Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Bachelor.

Oregonians were invited to indicate their most-to-least favorite of the names that included the above plus Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Scott and Mt. Thielsen. All of the names received some votes for most favorite, but in the end, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Bachelor topped the lists by several hundred votes.

The first trainset, now known as Mt. Jefferson, is in Seattle undergoing employee familiarization and corridor testing. The second trainset, Mt. Bachelor, is scheduled to leave Milwaukee, Wis., bound for Seattle, Wash., next week. The two new trains will join five others on the Amtrak Cascades corridor, providing service from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C.

Two of the trains currently in service are owned by Amtrak (Mt. Hood and Mt. Olympus) and three are owned by Washington State (Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier). Oregon State purchased its trains using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The cost of the trainsets is $38.4 million.

Each of the new Talgo trains offer seating for 275 passengers, a bistro car, a dining car, bicycle storage, business class seating and other amenities. Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Bachelor will be rotated into revenue service later this summer.

In other news, Amtrak has upgraded its AmtrakConnect cellular-based Wi-Fi service to take advantage of 4G technologies that are improving performance.

The 4G upgrade is already complete on Acela Express and the California-supported Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin services and will be rolled out to all remaining Wi-Fi equipped Amtrak trains by late summer, including the Northeast Regional.

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