Amtrak Upgrades High Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor

Yesterday, with the assistance of Vice Preside Joe Biden, Amtrak unveiled it’s plan for the next generation of high speed rail to hit the Northeast Corridor – the stretch between Washington DC and Boston, and points in between. This train will replace the current Acela Express offering.

To fund the project, the federal government is loaning 2.45 billion to Amtrak, though many would say Amtrak’s days are numbered. The new system could go up to 160mph, while the current system is maxed out at around 130mph. Theoretically, the train could go even faster, but Amtrak’s rails are so outdated, the train can’t operate faster. The new system – to be introduced in 2021 (yes, 5 years from now…) – will offer hourly service to Boston (up from every 2-3 hours or so), and every half hour service from DC to New York (up from every hour).

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Here’s what Amtrak touts as some of the new benefits:

  • Approximately one-third more passenger seating, while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort found onboard today
  • Modern interior design
  • Improved Wi-Fi access and quality
  • Personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat
  • Enhanced food service options
  • Exceed the ADA minimum accessibility requirements

Since I’m not much of a technical guy, here’s the specs on the new trains:

The new trainsets are among the safest, most reliable and energy efficient in the world. They have a 35-year track record of transporting billions of customers to their destinations safely. In reliability, we anticipate the new trainsets will be at least eight times more reliable than the equipment it replaces, ensuring that we will get you where you need to go on time, every time. Finally, the new trainsets will reduce operating energy consumption by at least 20 percent, through a combination of minimal aerodynamic drag and lightweight design.

The new train sets will consist of a Business Class product as the entry level offering, and an upgrade to first class.

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My Take

I’m excited for this new train offering, and, mainly, the increased schedule between DC and New York, which will relieve already crowding trains that operate hourly now. Actually, I usually prefer flying nowadays since I can usually can a preferred seat (or an upgrade) and get to my destination faster pending Amtrak’s many delays.

I really wish Amtrak would increase the speeds of its trains to match their European and Asian counterparts. We don’t even compare in the US. Unfortunately, that will take a lot more money…money which Amtrak doesn’t have.

What do you think of Amtrak’s new high speed train to replace the Acela Express?

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