Amtrak Receives $2.45 Billion Federally Secured Loan for New Acela Trains

Amtrak will replace, rather than overhaul, aging Acela trains with new, 186-mph trains from French manufacturer, Alstom, though they won't exceed 160 mph. The agreement was announced Friday by VP Joe Biden at Biden Station, Wilmington, Del.

2 minute read

August 28, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Courtesy of Alstom: Avelia Liberty trainset

"This loan is a key step to providing investments needed to help keep high speed trains moving throughout the region, and to help all commuters in the Northeast Corridor," Vice President Biden said. "We need these kinds of investments to keep this region – and our whole country – moving, and to create new jobs."

It is the largest loan made by the U.S. Department of Transportation, financed through the Federal Rail Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program. 

The trains are named "Avelia Liberty, the latest development of Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia," according to Alstom. "The new trainset will be able to carry up to 33% more passengers than the current Acela trains."

Another key feature is the train’s articulated architecture, which provides greater stability and passenger comfort while enhancing safety. The train also includes Alstom’s innovative Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology, which allows the train to manoeuvre curves safely and more comfortably at high speeds.

"Officials said about $2 billion would be spent on the new trains," reports Michael D. ShearWhite House correspondent for The New York Times. "The rest of the loan will be used to upgrade several stations, including those in New York and Washington, and to improve track reliability and safety."

Anthony R. Coscia, Amtrak’s chairman, said the railroad service was “responding to a change in the United States of people moving into the cities, of people looking for city-to-city connections.”

The trains will be manufactured at Alstom's Hornell, N.Y plant, which comes as "no surprise," reports William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief for Railway Age, due to  Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) very public visit [there] on Sept. 21, 2015. Vantuono adds that station and track improvements "will benefit both Acela Express riders and other Amtrak and regional commuter rail passengers."

"Amtrak plans to put the first of 28 new trains into service in about five years," adds Shear.

Once they are fully deployed, officials expect the Acela to depart every half-hour between Washington and New York and every hour between New York and Boston. That should increase passenger capacity by about 40 percent, they said. Amtrak expects increased revenue from the more frequent Acela service to help it pay back the loan.

The Acela trains have become one of the most successful parts of the Amtrak system. Over the last decade, they have helped train service displace airplanes as the most popular mode of travel in the Northeast Corridor. Acela trains carry about 3.4 million passengers a year between the three major cities.

Hat tip to Mark Boshnack.

Friday, August 26, 2016 in The New York Times

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29 - Streetsblog LA

Street view of 4th Avenue, a commercial street of shops and restaurants through the city center of downtown Seattle, Washington.

Study: Seattle Vision Zero Projects Not Bad for Business

An analysis of seven road safety project sites showed no negative economic impact on surrounding businesses.

February 29 - UW News

Black-and-white photo of street with old black model T and brick building on the corner.

The History of Racial Zoning and Housing Discrimination in the US

More than a century of discriminatory housing policy divided cities and contributed to the racial wealth gap and other social and economic inequities.

February 29 - Urban Land Magazine

Senior Planner

Heyer Gruel Associates

Regional Transportation Planner

Crater Planning District Commission

Senior Planner- Long range

Prince William County Planning Office

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.