Though American rail currently lags behind other countries’ high-speed railways, it’s made a significant step forward in recent investments and plans for transformation. Could America soon take the lead in rail innovation and passenger experience?
The golden age of US rail
Before the turn of the 20th century, American trains transported passengers from coast to coast at speeds above 100mph. Passengers boarded from fabulous stations and freight powered the country’s industries with everything from merchandise to coal. It was a prosperous time, which provided new economic opportunities, helped develop towns and communities while tying the country together.
A culmination of the great depression, changes in legislation, power, service management and under-investment – amongst other things – saw the decline of America’s rail systems. And, while Amtrak’s intercity rail services gave hope for a different kind of future, US rail never quite returned to its peak.
A major shift is coming
That could all be about to change. A $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden in 2021 (one of the largest in U.S. history) included $550 billion in new investments for the nation’s bridges, airports, waterways, public transit, broadband and more. As reported in the New York Times, the legislation marks the most significant investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak in 1971, with billions of dollars allocated to address its repair backlog, modernise its fleet and reduce trip times.
The $66 billion in new funding for rail could also fuel Amtrak’s expansion in its routes across the country, extend its network to new areas and generate millions more in revenue. Their plans include 30 new routes and more trips on 20 existing ones. The long overdue investment is set to modernise public infrastructure, enhance safety, and support future economic growth. Speaking of the investment, John Robert Smith, a former Amtrak board chairman and the chairman of Transportation for America, an advocacy group, said: “This is a fundamental change… they’ve never had anything comparable to this.”
Getting passengers back on board
Amtrak projects 20 million more people will be served with its expansion but can investing in rail services unravel an ingrained dependency on automobiles?
Car ownership in the U.S. continues to grow. It’s reported that 91.55% of Americans (up from 90.82%) have access to at least one car. The good news is, whether it’s commuting short distances, travelling long distances, improving the environment, or expanding service, Americans continue to show strong support for rail. Last year Amtrak reported that ridership rose 89% over 2021 levels to 22.9 million riders – up 10.8 million passengers to the previous year and has nearly returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Where technology, politics and climate action come together
Last month, the Biden Administration released the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization. Described as ‘a landmark interagency framework of strategies and actions to remove all emissions from the transportations sector by 2050’, the Blueprint offers a whole-government approach to addressing the climate crisis and meeting President Biden’s goals of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Every decision about transportation is also an opportunity to build a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future. When our air is cleaner; when more people can get good-paying jobs; when everyone stays connected to the resources they need and the people they love, we are all better off.”
US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
Developing the railway network and innovation are fundamental to encouraging more people to choose train travel over more carbon-intensive modes of transport.
Convenience and customer satisfaction is a key factor in mode of travel considerations, and the impact of reliable connectivity on customer satisfaction and increasing ridership cannot be underestimated. Research shows it could drastically increase ridership and improve customer service, with a majority of 16 to 34 year-olds saying they would be more likely to switch to rail if they had access to improved onboard Wi-Fi.
Meet demand with superfast supply
Rail Wi-Fi that provides the same level of connectivity experienced at home or at work is transformational for both network maintenance and passenger experience. Imagine a world with real-time oversight of all fleet data and passengers being able to live stream and send emails seamlessly.
evo-rail has the technology to match demand on American railways. rail-5G is the only solution in the marketplace today that can provide multiple gigabits of continuous connectivity throughout a journey.
Unlike other rail Wi-Fi providers, our revolutionary technology uses poles and antennas mounted along the track to deliver continuous, super-fast Wi-Fi – 50x faster than mobile 5G – to every passenger, at every point in the journey, over and underground.
And the best bit? It costs just a tenth of mobile data to run and is self-powering through renewable energy sources.
Invest in better
rail-5G technology is tried, tested and proven. Following a large-scale pilot on South Western Rail (SWR) Island Line on the Isle of Wight in the UK, rail-5G is being rolled out to over 100 trains covering 70km of the SWR network. But we understand investing in a solution you may not be familiar with can be daunting.
Benefits of rail-5G:
- Passengers benefit from reliable internet, entertainment, and enhanced productivity
- More satisfied passengers creates the potential for repeat customers and a modal shift towards rail
- Our technology can be implemented across any distance on every terrain – and will perform whatever the track length and location, even through tunnels
- Available as a full end-to-end service solution or technology-only packages
- Live access to data revolutionises the maintenance of trains, overhead line equipment, and CCTV live monitoring
- Available as carbon-neutral or carbon-negative
Here’s what we’re doing to make choosing rail-5G easy.
rail-5G costs just a tenth of mobile data
Save money on a long-lasting, future-proof solution. Plus, there are opportunities for you to commercialise additional bandwidth too.
We make it easy for you to invest, so your plans for transformational rail Wi-Fi don’t need to wait. Our team can work with you to find the best payment plan available, with very low-interest and service fee rates.
Meet your environmental targets
Delivered as a carbon-neutral solution, rail-5G can help you to work towards your net zero objectives. It’s reliable too, providing a long-lasting and sustainable solution for the railways.
See a gigabit of rail Wi-Fi in action
rail-5G provides multi-gigabits of connectivity (similar to what you experience at home or at work) throughout the entire journey. Experience it for yourself – request a demo and join virtually to see our high speeds in real-time on a moving train.
On track for a bright future
As the U.S. transforms its infrastructure and transport decarbonisation, evo-rail can help to transform journeys, create better operations, and encourage more sustainable modes of travel. Our future-proof technology is ready to help bring rail out of the past and into the 21st century. There’s no doubt it’s an exciting time for American transport and we can’t wait to see what’s in store as the industry develops over the coming years.
Ready to join the rail Wi-Fi revolution? Get in touch to speak to find out more about how rail-5G could transform your railways