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Amtrak launches Wi-Fi service

RENSSELAER -- Amtrak has launched its long-awaited free Wi-Fi service on Empire Corridor trains, as well as on numerous other routes throughout the Northeast and as far south as North Carolina.

Included are Empire Corridor trains between New York City, the Capital Region and Bufalo; and the Ethan Allen Express from New York to Rutland via the Capital Region.

Also included are some cars on the Maple Leaf to Toronto and the Adirondack to Montreal.

Other trains getting the wireless connection to the Internet include the Downeaster in Maine; Keystone Corridor trains in Pennsylvania, and trains serving Virginia and North Carolina.

Amtrak has previously offered the service on its Acela Express trains along the Northeast Corridor as well as on service in the Pacific Northwest.

It has been facing competition from airlines and bus companies that already offer the service.

Megabus, for example, provides free Wi-Fi on its route between Rensselaer and New York City. Southwest and Delta also offer the service on a number of their flights from Albany International Airport, although there's usually a fee.

More devices, including the iPad and other tablets, as well as many smartphones, can use Wi-Fi as a substitute for more expensive cellular service.

The move, which went into effect Monday, was welcomed by Amtrak passengers and rail advocates.

Business travelers in particular will find it useful, said Bruce Becker, president of the Empire State Passengers Association.

Michael McCabe, president of Advantage Travel in Albany, said his clients welcomed the addition.

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