TRAVEL

VIA Rail On-board Entertainment Brings CBC Video To Passengers

03/12/2013 04:13 EDT | Updated 03/12/2013 11:08 EDT

Via Rail passengers looking for an entertainment system closer to those found on planes will soon get their wish. The company announced today that train-goers will be able to stream video and television shows using the train's free WI-FI network starting this spring.

But before riders get excited about the prospect of watching movies still in theatres or hours on end of American sitcoms, there are some limits. Passengers will only be able to stream programming from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, movies from the National Film Board of Canada and shorts like the Heritage Minutes from the Historica-Dominion Institute through their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

"Over the past two years, VIA Rail passengers have become accustomed to world-class Wi-Fi on our trains. Today, we are pleased to extend our Wi-Fi offer with entertainment and information produced by Canadians, for Canadians," said Marc Laliberté, Via Rail's president and CEO in a press release.

The content comes as part of a partnership Via Rail struck with the three organizations and will only be available to those riding through Via Rail's heaviest passenger route: the Québec City – Windsor corridor, notes the Hamilton Spectator.

Despite the limitations, the entertainment system is an upgrade to Via's WI-FI network. Ever prior to the company's announcement, passengers were unable to stream content from Netflix or YouTube due to bandwidth issues. And according to Via Rail spokesperson, Jacques Gagnon, full-video service won't be coming any time soon.

“That requires infrastructure that would be ten times as powerful and more expensive,” said Gagnon.

“It all depends on how fast the information technology is evolving,” Gagnon told Canada.com

Via Rail says the new system will cost about $543,000, part of the $1 billion in funding the company received from the federal government back in 2007, according to CBC News.

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