Amtrak to debut Acela Express high speed service

The era of American high-speed rail will dawn November 16 when Amtrak launches 150 mph Acela Express service on the Northeast Corridor, the Corporation announced as it accepted the first of 20 trainsets on October 18.

The launch will consist of day-long ceremonial activities running from Washington north to New York and Boston to mark the history-making event. Revenue service between Washington and Boston will start December 11. Tickets go on sale November 29.

"Acela Express is the leader of all that is yet to come as high-speed rail speeds all across this country," said Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the chair of Amtrak's Board of Directors. "The travelling public is sending a distress call to escape our nation's endless traffic jams and airport gridlock."

Regularly scheduled service for Acela Express will begin with one trip daily in each direction between Washington and Boston. The train will reach its top speed of 150 mph between Boston and New York - 50 mph faster than today's trains - completing that leg of the journey in three hours, 23 minutes. The Washington-New York portion will take two hours, 44 minutes, make six stops and achieve a top speed of 135 mph.

The train will serve BWI Airport, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, New York, New Haven, Providence and three stations in the Boston area - Route 128, Back Bay and South Station. One-way fares for Business Class are $143 between New York and Washington and $120 between Boston and New York, with upgrades available to First Class.

Amtrak will begin regularly scheduled service after delivery of the second trainset and will increase service as it receives more trainsets every month from the manufacturing consortium of Bombardier ALSTOM. By the time all 20 trainsets are delivered next summer, Amtrak will be running 19 roundtrips daily between New York and Washington and 10 roundtrips between Boston and New York.

Acela Express is an all-new train that generates 12,500 horsepower utilizing the electric propulsion system of the French TGV, manufactured by ALSTOM. It incorporates an advanced tilt technology system developed by Bombardier that improves ride quality as the train travels through curves at high speeds.

The 20 trainsets are part of an $800 million contract with Bombardier that also includes 15 high horsepower locomotives to power existing trains and new maintenance facilities in Boston, New York and Washington.

Each train consists of locomotives on the front and rear with six passenger coaches in between, including a First Class Car, four Business Class cars and a Café car. Seating is available for 304 passengers. Each seat is equipped with electric outlets to plug in laptop computers, three channels of audio entertainment, adjustable headrests and large fold-down tray tops.

Inside the Acela Express.

Acela exterior.


© 2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers