Saturday, August 27, 2016

WATCH: Amtrak debuts new Acela trains

Courtesy of Alstom.
Amtrak announced a few weeks ago that it would replace its 20-year-old Acela trains - which first debuted in 1999 - with newer, faster models. This week we got a first look at those trains, in a video Amtrak posted to its YouTube page:


For those who don't know, Acela Express is the higher-speed service that runs from Washington, DC to Boston, passing through Philadelphia, New York City, and several other major Northeastern cities along the way. The Northeast Corridor is in fact Amtrak's only profitable rail line and is frequently used by current and former Members of Congress, including Vice President (once-Senator) Joe Biden.

It was Biden who announced a $2.5 billion loan to pay for the trains from the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program, which will be repaid from growth in revenue.

The new trains, built by French company Alstom but 95% made in America - can travel up to 220mph, though with current rail regulations and infrastructure it will only be able to go 160mph. That's still 10mph above the current trains' top speed. They'll also be able to carry one-third more passengers than the current trains.

Usually when I travel along the Northeast Corridor, I use Amtrak's Northeast Regional service; it's half the price and about an hour longer than Acela. But once these trains are running in 2021, I will definitely give them a try.

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