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Home > Archives > "The Office Extension" poster, 1990.

"The Office Extension" poster, 1990.

Full color printed paper poster made to promote Railfone service on Amtrak trains; dates to 1990.

"The Office Extension" poster, 1990.

In June 1986, Amtrak launched Railfone service onboard Metroliner Service trains (Washington-New York) popular with business travelers. The joint venture with Railfone Inc. used cellular mobile-radio telephone technology to allow customers to place calls from moving trains. Railfone replaced an earlier system discontinued in 1981 that had employed less reliable microwave technology.

There were a minimum of three phones on each Metroliner Service train, whose cars sported rooftop antennas to transmit the calls. After inserting a major credit card into a slot on the Railfone, a passenger could dial directly anywhere in the country, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The cost was $5 for the first three minutes and $1 for each additional minute. The phones took no coins and did not receive calls. Railfone was later expanded to other routes with a high proportion of business travelers, such as the San Diegan service (San Diego-Los Angeles).

From the Ann Owens Collection.