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.
"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."
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. Shear, White 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.
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