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Metra has installed cellular Wi-Fi hotspots on one rail car along each of its 11 lines, the Chicago commuter railroad announced this week.The installation is part of a pilot program to determine whether the technology can provide free and dependable Internet access to riders, Metra officials said in a press release.The six-month program is expected to cost $35,000.The pilot is similar to one recently launched by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) on its South Shore Line. Like the NICTD program, this Wi-Fi service is available on a car-by-car basis instead of a full train.Metra will rotate the 11 Wi-Fi cars among each of its line throughout the pilot. The cars are labeled with decals on the exterior and will be positioned as the end car on the train when possible, Metra officials said. Last year, Metra implemented free Wi-Fi in the waiting areas of all five downtown stations.Meanwhile, Metra announced that its January on-time performance rate was 95.8 percent, marking the 11th consecutive month that the railroad has met its goal of operating at least 95 percent of its trains on time. Metra considered a train to have operated on time if it reached its final destination within five minutes and 49 seconds of its scheduled arrival. Last month's 95.8 percent rate exceeded the five-year average for the month of January of 93.6 percent, Metra officials said.Out of 16,646 trains that operated in January 2016, 706 were tardy by six minutes or more. The most common cause for delays was switch failure and weather, Metra officials said. Mechanical problems, freight interference and right-of-way accidents were other major causes for train delays last month.
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