Amtrak's Acela: Slower Than A Speeding Bullet

Writer David Carr is relentlessly critical of the Amtrak's new Acela train, theoretically capable of 150 mph.
October 5, 2001, 10am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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In the end, Acela is functionally the same old Amtrak with a bullet-train bonnet, running on track that includes tunnels dating back to the Civil War and switching equipment not much younger. And it must share those tracks with freight rail companies. High-speed trains in Europe and Japan run on mostly straight, dedicated tracks between major metropolitan areas, and they are very fast. Those countries don't even consider a train high-speed unless it travels at least 125 miles an hour. Such technology typically blossoms in smaller countries that have the will to invest in infrastructure that make trains truly competitive with airlines and make cars seem silly. But in America, the term "bullet train" is more marketing rubric than paradigm-shifter.

Thanks to transport-policy Email List

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Published on Friday, October 5, 2001 in The Washington Monthly
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