2008-03-13

hi-speed wifi

I always thought that the German ICE is the top of the food chain when it comes to bullet train technology. Dubbed as 'Maybach on rails' by Deutsche Bahn, I was convinced that hi-speed train traveling couldn't get any better. Comfortable, great design, and laptop power outlets at every seat.

Well, thats nothing. It's nothing compared to the latest french TGV lyra that I had the pleasure to ride last weekend. 4 hours and 20 minutes from Zurich Central to Paris Est (at a steep 200 EUR return). The train was well designed, nice colors but it didn't feel quite as luxurious and solid in comparison with the ICE. Until I booted my laptop, detected a Wifi and found this:
The train apparently has its own web server that displays the above site. In the center is a flash-based live map that displays the current location of the train. The box on the top left displays the current speed (up to 340 km/h) and the completed percentage of the journey. The best thing however is the third menu-item on the left: Internet! During approximately 2 hrs of the journey (and within France), that link fires up a free internet connection (realized by orange mobile). I checked my emails and surfed the web at decent speeds. For free.

Fuck you Deutsche Bahn, the holy grail of coolness now resides with the french, and an overpriced WLAN-Service on one lousy connection that is only available to first-class passangers can't stick up with that.

Hi-Speed trains rock: You travel from center to center, no airport annoyances (check-in, security, weight limitations, waiting at gates, endless journeys to shitty airports and god-knows-what), its much better for the environment, and there's power for laptops. If you ask me, it's the best way to travel - at least in Europe.

Paris was fantastic by the way.

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