Anyone who travels for work between the big cities of the Northeast is probably familiar with the interior of Amtrak’s Acela “high speed service.” Soon, it’ll be new. Well, it’ll be very similar but with some cool new features.
Amtrak’s Acela, which is a nominally “high speed train” service between Boston and Washington, DC along the Northeast Corridor, was launched back in 2000 and continues to use the same trainsets nineteen years later. This is the part of Amtrak that actually makes money (not the part that Jason took), so when the equipment gets old, they actually have to replace it. As part of a $2.4 billion investment in the corridor, that’s going to happen, with Amtrak going back to Alstom for the next generation train, which Alstom calls the Avelia Liberty.
The new trains aren’t expected to be in service until 2021 but, with the help of a mock-up, Amtrak has decided to give us peek at what the interior is going to be like, which is probably the most important aspect to the Acela’s core demographic of business travelers.
Amtrak says that the new Acela will seat 25% more passengers than the current trains in both business and first class, which retains its 1-2 layout for extra room. Seats in both classes will have both AC and USB outlets as well as adjustable reading lamps. The infamous quiet car will also remain, but if you need to chat, some seats will be arranged around tables.
The trains will also still have a cafe car. According to Amtrak, the new cafe is designed to offer “convenient access to grab-and-go and a greater selection.” That could be an exciting development, as right now the best bet for food on the train is to buy something before you board.
The trainsets, which are based on Alstom’s AGV technology also in use in Italy, will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph, according to Progressive Railroading.
Amtrak says that the new trains could not just increase capacity by putting more people on each train. The larger fleet, which is being constructed at Alstom’s facilities in Hornell and Rochester, New York, will allow for up to half-hourly service between New York and Washington, and hourly service between New York and Boston.
Amtrak is doing some very necessary work here replacing these old trainsets. Most riders would agree that the old ones, which weren’t great to begin with, have come to feel tired. I hope that replacing the trains themselves makes a big enough improvement for the Acela. From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like the interior of the new trains will be up to the task, even if infrastructure issues effecting the line remain unsolved amid legislative gridlock.