The bitterly cold winter of 2013-14 caused major problems for Amtrak in the Midwest, notes the Chicago Tribune‘s Jon Hilkevitch. The train’s on-time rate was only 26 percent, with several spectacularly bad delays.
Hilkevitch notes that Amtrak blames the installation of Wi-Fi for some of the problems. Wi-Fi is only available on the single-level cars, not the double-decker cars that typically carry passengers on cross-country routes, and mixing the two types of cars disrupts the Internet connection. The single-level cars, however, had plumbing problems and were less reliable in extremely cold and snowy conditions, Hilkevitch notes.
The woeful winter led many passengers to wonder whether money spent on high-speed rail might be better spent in other ways.