I was on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line on Friday. While traveling through the Connecticut I decided to call a long time friend of mine on my cell phone. The call was dropped four times. I have always known that there is spotty coverage along the line, but frankly this was ridiculous. While on the call my friend noted that he had driven through rural North Carolina just a few weeks ago and his wife held a telephone conversation uninterupted for an hour.
This is just another example of how our highways have been favored over our railroads. The lack of cell phone infrastructure is not Amtrak’s fault per se. However, they are not blameless either. Amtrak should be working with Verizon and AT&T to build cell towers on or near their tracks, especially if they truly want to be known as a business-friendly line. Amtrak could give easements to the telephone companies on their land in order to build more towers. This is an agreement that would benefit both the mobile phone corporations and Amtrak. Train rides are pretty luxurious when compared to a car ride or a plane ride. It is a shame that one of the contemporary amenities of most highway drives in the Northeast–cell phone coverage–is currently partially missing along the premier passenger train route in the country.