NEWS: Amtrak’s Acela Express Replacement Arriving In 2021
Forbes – While Amtrak has previously said that an Acela Express EXPR +3.17% replacement was on the way, commonly referred to as Acela 2, few details were set in stone. On Friday, Amtrak and partner Alstom revealed the initial details for the Northeast Corridor’s high speed train replacement, scheduled to arrive in 2021.
Quite possibly the biggest improvement over the current generation Acela will be the dramatic increase in passenger capacity, which will be up 35-40% from today’s Acela trainsets. The total order calls for 28 new trainsets to be delivered to Amtrak, up from today’s 20 trainsets. These additional trainsets will enable Amtrak to offer service between Washington, D.C. and New York City every half-hour during peak times, and every hour between New York City and Boston.
The new Acela will also be modular, an improvement over the current fixed-car Acela set. Today, Acela trainsets are limited eight cars a piece, only six of which are passenger cars. The new Acela will be modular, meaning individual cars can be added or removed from trainsets to meet capacity demands on specific trains.
The trainsets will be capable of higher speeds than today’s Acela service, initially at speeds up to 160 mph but will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph when future improvements are completed along the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak will retire its current Acela trainsets in early 2022.
On the inside, initial renderings show a much improved passenger experience. As on the original Acela Express, all seats will have access to an electrical outlet and reading light, but Amtrak will be adding a USB port to power smaller devices. Amtrak also promises improved Wi-Fi access and quality, most likely coming in the form of a dedicated trackside wireless network rather than using commercial cellular networks.
Amtrak will also retain its bar car and First Class service on the new Acela, and appears to be adding seatback and tabletop entertainment screens, a first for any Amtrak car.
In order to help purchase the new trainsets, Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez announced a $2.45 billion loan to Amtrak by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau through its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program. The loan will also help Amtrak carry out necessary track upgrades between the New Carrolton and Baltimore stations.
The new trainsets will be built by Alstom at its facility in Hornell, NY. Alstom says the Acela contract will create more than 1,000 jobs nationwide, including 750 in New York with 400 of those at Alstom facilities.