The idea of having Internet access on board California trains seems to have stalled: Three potential projects to bring Wi-Fi to Bay Area commuter trains have stalled.
Caltrain just announced that after spending $300,000 in trials of Wi-Fi access on board trains last year, the agency rejected both bids to build out the service. They budgeted $1m to move forward and $3-4m for the whole project. The bidders weren't noted, but one was certainly Nomad Digital, which was involved in the tests. Apparently, they weren't satisfied with one bidder's costs, which result in a necessary subsidy, and the other's complexity. Caltrain covers the southern Bay peninsula from San Jose to San Francisco.
Altamount Commuter Express (ACE) was a pioneer in train-Fi. They went offline last year and are yet to return, although they have a logo and a planned date for completion (summer 2007, a season we're still technically not finished with). ACE runs from San Jose north via Fremont, then east to Pleasanton, Livermore, and Vasco.
Over at the Capitol Corridor, the project to test Internet service on board for operational and passenger purposes has languished; the initial bidders either pulled out or offered impractical options. The train's authority is still considering its options. Capitol Corridor runs from San Jose via Fremont to Sacramento.
In Europe, however, usage and offerings seem to keep expanding. Thalys just announced a cross-border deal that will put broadband on trains using satellite and cellular (GPRS/UMTS) combined backhaul. Trains will start having pilot installations in September, with production rollout in the fourth quarter. Thalys travels on routes that serve Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne at up to 300 km/h. They'll serve out Internet access alongside streaming media and games from onboard gear, with video on demand a later offering.