The Acela Express (/əˈsɛlə/ ə-SEL-ə; colloquially abbreviated to Acela) is Amtrak's flagship service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeastern United States between Washington, D.C. and Boston via 14 intermediate stops, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. The route contains segments of high-speed rail, and Acela Express trains are the fastest trainsets in the Americas; they attain 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) on 33.9 miles (54.6 km) of the route.
Acela carried more than 3.4 million passengers in fiscal year 2016; second only to the slower and less expensive Northeast Regional, which had over 8 million passengers in FY 2016. Its 2016 revenue of US$585 million was 25% of Amtrak's total.
Acela operates along routes that are used by freight and slower regional passenger traffic, and only reaches the maximum allowed speed of the tracks along some sections, with the fastest peak speed along segments between Mansfield, Massachusetts and Richmond, Rhode Island. Acela trains use tilting technology, which helps control lateral centripetal forces, allowing the train to travel at higher speeds on the sharply curved NEC without disturbing passengers. The high-speed operation occurs mostly along the 226-mile (364 km) route from Pennsylvania Station in New York City to Union Station in Washington, D.C., with a fastest scheduled time of 2 hours and 45 minutes and an average speed of 82.2 mph (132 km/h), including time spent at intermediate stops. Over this route, Acela and the Northeast Regional service captured a 75% share of air/train commuters between New York and Washington in 2011, up from 37% in 2000.
The Acela's speed is limited by traffic and infrastructure on the route's northern half. On the 231-mile (372 km) section from Boston's South Station to New York's Penn Station, the fastest scheduled time is 3 hours and 30 minutes, or an average speed of 66 mph (106 km/h). Along this section, Acela has still captured a 54% share of the combined train and air market. The entire 457-mile (735 km) route from Boston to Washington takes between 6 hours, 38 minutes and 6 hours, 50 minutes, at an average of around 70.3 mph (113 km/h).
The present Acela Express equipment will be replaced by new Avelia Liberty trainsets, beginning in 2021. The new trains will have greater passenger capacity and an active tilt system that will allow faster speed on the many curved sections of the route. Amtrak plans to retire all current Acela trains by the end of 2022.
Amtrak Acela Express train, led by power car #2009,
at Old Saybrook, Connecticut
|Service type||Inter-city, high speed tilting train|
|Locale||Northeastern United States|
|First service||December 11, 2000|
|Start||South Station, Boston|
|End||Union Station, Washington, D.C.|
|Distance travelled||457 mi (735 km)|
|Average journey time||6 hours, 38 minutes–6 hours, 50 minutes|
|Service frequency||20 per day|
|Class(es)||Business and first class|
|Disabled access||Fully accessible|
|Seating arrangements||Reclining leather seats|
(4 across in Business Class, 3 across in First Class)
|Catering facilities||On-board café; at-seat meals in first class|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead bins and racks; no checked luggage|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||Up to 150 mph (240 km/h)|
84 mph (135 km/h) average
70 mph (113 km/h) average including stops
Following the success of Japan's newly inaugurated Shinkansen network, the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 authorized the U.S. government to explore the creation of high-speed rail, which resulted in the introduction of Metroliner trains, the predecessor to Acela. During the 1980s the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration explored the possibilities of high-speed rail in the United States. On December 18, 1991, five potential high speed rail corridors were authorized ("Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) (PL 102-240)") including the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak asked railway equipment manufacturers to submit proposals. An X 2000 train was leased from Sweden for test runs from October 1992 to January 1993. It was operated from Washington, D.C. to New York City from February to May and August to September 1993. Siemens showed the ICE 1 train from Germany, organizing the ICE Train North America Tour which started to operate on the Northeast Corridor on July 3, 1993. This testing allowed Amtrak to define a set of specifications that went into a public tender in October 1994.
On March 9, 1999, Amtrak unveiled its plan for a high-speed train, the Acela Express. Twenty new trains were to run on the Northeast Corridor. Several changes were made to the corridor to make it suitable for the Acela. The Northend Electrification Project extended existing electrification from New Haven to Boston to complete the overhead power supply along the 454-mile (731 km) route, and several grade crossings were improved or removed.
In October 1994, Amtrak requested bids from train manufacturers for a trainset that could reach 150 miles per hour (240 km/h). A joint project of Bombardier (75%) and GEC Alsthom (now Alstom) (25%) was selected in March 1996. An inaugural VIP run of the Acela occurred on November 16, 2000, with the VIP train being led by power car number 2020 with no. 2009 at the opposite end, followed by the first revenue run on December 11, 2000, a few months after the intended date.
By 2005, Amtrak's share of the common-carrier market between New York and Boston had reached 40%, from 18% pre-Acela. With the increasing popularity of the faster, modern Acela Express, Metroliner service was phased out in late 2006. To meet the demand, more Acela services were added in September 2005. By August 2008 crowding had become noticeable.
By 2011, the Acela fleet had reached half of its designed service life. Amtrak proposed several replacement options, including one as part of its A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor. In 2011, Amtrak announced that forty new Acela coaches would be ordered in 2012 to increase capacity on existing trainsets. The existing trains would have received two more coaches, lengthening the trainsets from a 1-6-1 configuration to 1-8-1 (power car — passenger cars — power car). The longer trainsets would have required the modifications of the Acela maintenance facilities in Boston, New York and Washington. The first of the stretched trainsets was to have entered service in fiscal year 2014. This plan was cancelled in 2012 in favor of replacing, rather than refurbishing, the Acela fleet.
In January 2014, Amtrak issued a request for proposals on 28 or more new model Acela trainsets, in a combined order with the California High-Speed Rail Authority. These bids were due May 17, 2014. After discussions with manufacturers, Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority concluded their needs were too disparate for common rolling stock and decided not to pursue the joint option.
Amtrak's original contract with the Bombardier-Alstom consortium was for the delivery of 20 trainsets (6 coaches each, with power cars at front and rear) for $800 million. By 2004, Amtrak had settled contract disputes with the consortium, paying a total of $1.2 billion for the 20 trainsets plus 15 extra high-speed locomotives and the construction of maintenance facilities in Boston, New York, and Washington.
The Acela name was announced on March 9, 1999, as a part of the original announcement of the service itself. Amtrak originally intended for this move to be part of a rebranding of the majority of their Northeast services, forming three levels: Acela Express, Acela Regional, and Acela Commuter. The branding team based the name "Acela" on the ideas of acceleration and excellence.
There were then three classes of trains on the Northeast Corridor (and its extension south to Newport News, Virginia)— Philadelphia-New York Clockers, the express Metroliners, and the umbrella term NortheastDirect, applied to other trains on the corridor (in addition to unique names assigned to each departure). Empire Service trains used the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls, and Keystone Service ran along the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
The Acela Regional name was first applied to NortheastDirect trains 130–133 on January 31, 2000. Those trains, 130 and 131 running weekdays only and 132 and 133 running every day, were the first electrified trains to run on the full Northeast Corridor. As more trains were electrified, they too were rebranded. In 2003, due to confusion between the lower-speed Acela Regional trains and the Acela Express, the Acela branding was removed from the NortheastDirect service (now the Northeast Regional) and the Acela Commuter had its name changed back to the Clocker for a similar reason; the Clocker was ultimately discontinued on October 28, 2005.
|Acela Express (first-generation)|
Business Class interior
|Number built||20 trainsets|
|Number in service||20 trainsets|
|Formation||8 cars (2 x power car; 6 x passenger car)|
|Fleet numbers||2000–2039 (power cars)|
|Capacity||304 (44 First Class; 260 Business Class)|
|Depot(s)||Ivy City, Washington, D.C.|
Sunnyside Yard, New York City
Southampton Street Yard, Boston
|Line(s) served||Northeast Corridor|
|Car body construction||Stainless steel|
|Train length||665 feet 8.75 inches (202.91 m)|
|Car length||69 feet 7 inches (21.21 m) (Power car)|
87 feet 5 inches (26.64 m) (passenger car)
|Width||10 feet 5 inches (3.18 m) (Power car)|
10 feet 4 1⁄2 inches (3.16 m) (passenger car)
|Height||14 feet 2 inches (4.32 m) (Power car; rail to roof)|
13 feet 10 5⁄8 inches (4.23 m) (passenger car)
|Floor height||4 feet 3 inches (1.30 m)|
|Doors||Single leaf sliding plug doors|
Intermediate passenger cars: 4
End Passenger Cars: 2
|Wheel diameter||40 inches (1,016 mm) (power car)|
36 inches (914 mm) (passenger car)
|Wheelbase||35 feet 3 inches (10.74 m) (power car)|
59 feet 6 inches (18.14 m) (passenger car)
|Maximum speed||165 mph (266 km/h) (design)|
150 mph (240 km/h) (service)
|Weight||1,246,000 lb (565,000 kg) (Trainset)|
204,000 lb (93,000 kg) (power car)
142,000 lb (64,000 kg) (end cars; Business and First)
139,000 lb (63,000 kg) (Intermediate business cars)
137,000 lb (62,000 kg) (Bistro car)
|Axle load||51,000 lb (23,000 kg) (Power car)|
35,750 lb (16,220 kg) (passenger cars)
|Traction system||Alstom GTO inverters and 3-phase asynchronous AC traction motors (Model 4-FXA-4559C)|
|Power output||1,150 kW (1,540 hp) (per motor)|
4,600 kW (6,200 hp) (per power car)
49,500 lbf (220.2 kN) (per power car)
|Power supply||2850 V DC (PWM rectified) voltage regulated from mains re-inverted to three-phase, frequency and voltage controlled AC waveform.|
25 kV 60 Hz AC, 12 kV 60 Hz AC, 12 kV 25 Hz AC
|Current collection method||Pantograph, 2 per power car|
|Braking system(s)||Dynamic and regenerative (power cars)|
Electro-pneumatic disk and tread (trainset)
|Safety system(s)||Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The first-generation Acela trainset is a unique set of vehicles designed specifically to satisfy governmental rolling stock requirements established primarily by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This includes the ability to withstand a collision with a freight train at speed without collapsing. Most manufacturers which bid on the Acela were unable to meet the structural requirements, due to increased costs and complications for the manufacture of the trains, and the need for manufacturers to make significant engineering changes to their standard designs. In the end, only three qualified bidders remained: ABB (Swedish-Swiss manufacturer of the X 2000 train), Siemens (manufacturer of the German ICE), and a consortium of Bombardier (manufacturer of the LRC trains) and Alstom (manufacturer of the French TGV).
The design, using identical 6,200 horsepower (4,600 kW) power cars at each end which operate on a voltage of 11,000 volts AC, and either 25 or 60 Hz frequency, derives several components from the TGV, such as the third-generation TGV's traction system (including the four asynchronous AC motors per power car, rectifiers, inverters, and regenerative braking), the trucks/bogies structure (a long wheelbase dual transom H frame welded steel with outboard mounted tapered roller bearings), the brake discs (although there are only three per axle, versus four on the TGV), and crash energy management techniques to control structural deformation in the event of an accident.
The tilting carriages are based upon Bombardier's earlier LRC trains used on Via Rail rather than the TGV's non-tilting articulated trailers. Acela power cars and passenger cars are much heavier than those of the TGV in order to meet the FRA's crash standards. French and Canadian crews testing the Acela referred to it as "the fast pig" due to its weight. The extra weight leads to the Acela's power-to-weight ratio being about 22.4 hp per tonne, compared to 30.8 hp for a SNCF TGV Reseau trainset. The Tier II crash standards, adopted in 1999, have also resulted in the passenger cars being designed without steps and trapdoors, which means that the trainsets can only serve lines with high-level platforms such as the Northeast Corridor. Acela trains are semi-permanently coupled (but not articulated as in the TGV) and are referred to as trainsets. Bombardier later used the Acela carriage design and a diesel/gas turbine variant of the power car for its experimental JetTrain.
With a 71:23 gear ratio, the Acela is designed with a top speed of 165 mph (266 km/h) and reaches a maximum speed of 150 mph (240 km/h) in regular service on three sections of track totaling 33.9 miles (55 km) in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Acela achieves an average speed (including stops) of 82.2 mph (132.3 km/h) between Washington and New York, and an average speed of 66 mph (106 km/h) from New York to Boston. The average speed over the entire route is a slightly faster 70.3 mph (113 km/h).
In practice, the Acela's speed depends more on local restrictions along its corridor than on its trainset. In addition to speed restrictions through urban areas, the Acela's corridor includes several speed restrictions below 60–80 mph (97–129 km/h) over older bridges, or through tunnels a century old or more. Altogether, Amtrak has identified 224 bridges along Acela's route that are beyond their design life.
To prepare for the Acela launch, Amtrak upgraded the track along the Connecticut shoreline east of New Haven to allow maximum speeds in excess of 110 mph (177 km/h). West of New York City, the Acela's top speed is 135 mph (217 km/h). One limiting factor is the overhead catenary support system which was constructed before 1935 and lacks the constant-tension features of the new catenary east of New Haven. The Pennsylvania Railroad ran Metroliner test trains in the late 1960s as fast as 164 mph (264 km/h) and briefly intended to run the Metroliner service at speeds reaching 150 mph (241 km/h). Certification testing for commercial operation at 160 mph (257 km/h) involving test runs at up to 165 mph (266 km/h) began between Trenton and New Brunswick in September 2012.
The slowest section of the electrified NEC is the portion owned by Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation between New Haven, Connecticut and New Rochelle, New York and is heavily used by commuter trains. Amtrak's trains here achieve 90 mph (145 km/h) only on a limited 4 mi (6.4 km) stretch in New York State and rarely exceed 60 mph (97 km/h) at any time eastbound through Connecticut until reaching New Haven. In 1992, ConnDOT began plans to upgrade the catenary system, replace outdated bridges, and straighten certain sections of the New Haven Line to enable the Acela to run slightly faster. Curve straightening was later deemed too expensive. As of May 2017 the catenary replacement and bridge work were under way and expected to be completed by mid-2018.
On July 9, 2007, Amtrak introduced a limited-stop round trip, with trains stopping only at Philadelphia between New York and Washington. This shortened the trip between the two cities to 2 hours 35 minutes, making the trip roughly an hour faster than some of the Northeast Regional train services. These trains were an experiment to find ways to expedite travel time on the Acela; Amtrak has since dropped them.
Acela Express's fastest schedule between New York and Washington, DC was 2 hours and 45 minutes in 2012. $450 million was allotted by President Barack Obama's administration to replace catenary and upgrade signals between Trenton and New Brunswick, which will allow speeds of 160 mph (257 km/h) over a 23 mi (37 km) stretch. The improvements were scheduled to be completed in 2016, but have been delayed; the project is now scheduled to be finished in 2020. This section of track holds the record for the highest speed by a train in the US, which is 170.8 mph (274.9 km/h), achieved in a test run by the U.S./Canada-built UAC TurboTrain on December 20, 1967.
The dense population of the northeastern United States makes the Northeast Corridor the most heavily traveled portion of the American passenger rail system. Two-thirds of rail passengers in the United States live in or near New York City, also home to the nation's busiest passenger rail station, Penn Station. In order to compete with airliners, Amtrak needed to increase the speed of trains in the region. The former Shore Line from New Haven to Boston is burdened by sharp turns and grade crossings, the crossings being of special concern.
Tilting enables passengers to ride more comfortably on curved sections of track faster than would otherwise be possible, by leaning into the bend. Acela trainsets tilt above 60 mph (97 km/h) on most of the system, but some segments of track in the Northeast Corridor are too close together for the cars to safely tilt while maintaining FRA minimum space between trains on parallel tracks. Metro-North Railroad restricts tilting on the segment of track north of New York which it owns. The system was originally designed for a 6.8° tilt, but the cars were redesigned 4 in (100 mm) wider to accommodate wider seats and aisles that reduced allowable tilt to 4.2° to fit within the clearance constraints of the existing tracks. Traveling at higher than 135 mph (217 km/h) also requires constant-tension catenary, which is only implemented on the more modern catenary system north of New York City. South of New York City, the trains are restricted to 135 mph (217 km/h). By comparison, the Northeast Regional and the now-defunct Metroliner service reached 125 mph (201 km/h).
Acela service was originally expected to begin in late 1999 but was delayed. The catenary system could not support the intended speeds between Washington DC and New York City, but the newer system between New York City and Boston allows the higher speeds. Attention was drawn to the decreased 4.2° tilt, but this was not the root of the speed problem, as the tracks from New York to Boston are similar to those between New York and Washington, and the tilt mechanism is not the factor enabling higher speeds. Following repairs, the first Acela service began on December 11, 2000, a year behind schedule.
Acela travels between Boston and New York in about three and a half hours (an improvement of half an hour); New York to Washington runs take a minimum two hours and forty-five minutes. These schedules, as well as the relative convenience of direct downtown-to-downtown rail service as opposed to air travel, especially after the September 11 attacks, have made the Acela Express more competitive with the air shuttles. Due to this competition, Southwest Airlines canceled service between Washington and New York.
Due to the high speed at which Acela trains bypass platforms of local stations, concerns have mounted in some communities over inadequate warnings and safeguards for passengers waiting for other trains, including that the two-foot wide yellow platform markings may not keep people at a safe distance. At Kingston station in Rhode Island and Mansfield station in Massachusetts, Acela trains pass by at 150 mph (241 km/h). Suggestions include platform safety barriers, or use of different announcements for approaching Acela trains versus slower ones. In 2011, federal transportation grants were awarded to improve Kingston station, including the construction of a third track to be used by the Acela as a through track to bypass the station, helping to alleviate safety concerns. Renovations were officially completed on October 30, 2017.
In August 2002, shortly after their introduction, Acela trainsets were briefly removed from service when the brackets that connected truck (bogie) dampers (shocks) to the powerunit carbodies ("yaw dampers") were found to be cracking. The Acela returned to service when a program of frequent inspections was instituted. The damper brackets have since been redesigned and old brackets replaced by the newer design.
On April 15, 2005, the Acela was removed from service when cracks were found in the disc brakes of many passenger coaches. The Bombardier-Alstom consortium replaced the discs under warranty. Limited service resumed in July 2005, as a portion of the fleet operated with new brake discs. Metroliner trains, which the Acela Express was intended to replace, filled in during the outage. Amtrak announced on September 21, 2005, that all 20 trainsets had been returned to full operation.
The production sets are formed as follows:
|Designation||Power||Business Class||Business Class||Cafe||Business Class||Business Class
|Weight (US ton)||102.0||71.0||69.5||68.5||69.5||69.5||71.0||102.0||623.0|
The Acela Express trainset consists of two power cars, a café car, a First Class car, and four Business Class cars, semi-permanently coupled together. It has fewer seats than regional service counterparts. The First Class car has 44 seats, being three seats across (one on one side, two on the other side), four seat tables and assigned seating. There are 260 Business Class seats on each trainset; these cars have four seats across (two on each side) and four-seat tables. Reservations guarantee seating in Business Class, but seats are not assigned. Baggage may be stowed in overhead compartments or underneath seats. Trains are wheelchair-accessible. Cars have one or two toilets each, with one ADA compliant.
The car adjacent to First Class is designated as the quiet car, where passengers are asked to refrain from loud talking and phone conversations. Automatic sliding doors between cars reduce noise.
Generally Amtrak train crews consist of an engineer, a conductor, and at least one assistant conductor. Acela trains also have an On-Board Service crew consisting of two First Class attendants and a Cafe Car attendant. In addition to the food service provided in the Cafe Car, on most trains an attendant will also provide at seat cart service, serving refreshments throughout the train. First Class passengers are served meals at their seats on all services.
Acela offers two classes of seating, Business Class and First Class. Unlike most other Amtrak trains, Business Class is the de facto standard class on Acela trains; there is no coach service.
At Amtrak, the On-Board Service crew is considered separate and subordinate to the Train and Engine crews. Acela maintenance is generally taken care of at the Ivy City facility in Washington, DC; Sunnyside Yard in Queens, New York; or Southampton Street Yard in Boston.
The Acela trainsets underwent minor refurbishments between mid-2009 and 2010 at Penn Coach Yard, next to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These refurbishments included new blue leather seats throughout the trainset.
In May 2018, Amtrak announced a 14-month program to refresh the interiors of the Acela trainsets, including new seat cushions and covers, new aisle carpeting, and a deep clean.
Wireless Internet station service began in 2004. In 2010, with services provided by The GBS Group, all Acela trains began offering "AmtrakConnect" supporting IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and standard VPN connections. In 2016, Amtrak made a successful effort to upgrade to a faster wifi service.
|Massachusetts||Boston||South Station||Amtrak: Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional|
|Back Bay||Amtrak: Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional|
|Westwood||Route 128||Amtrak: Northeast Regional|
|Rhode Island||Providence||Providence||Amtrak: Northeast Regional|
|Connecticut||New London||New London||Amtrak: Northeast Regional|
|New Haven||Union Station||Amtrak: New Haven–Springfield Shuttle, Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
|Stamford||Stamford||Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
|New York||New York City||Penn Station||Amtrak: Adirondack, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|New Jersey||Newark||Newark Penn Station||Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|Iselin||Metropark||Amtrak: Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
|Trenton||Trenton||Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||30th Street Station||Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|Delaware||Wilmington||Wilmington||Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|Maryland||Baltimore||Penn Station||Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|BWI Rail Station||Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
|District of Columbia||Washington||Union Station||Amtrak: Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter, Thruway Motorcoach to Charlottesville, Virginia|
On August 26, 2016, Vice President Joe Biden announced a $2.45 billion federal loan package to pay for new Acela equipment, as well as upgrades to the NEC. The loans will finance 28 train-sets that will replace the existing fleet of twenty. This will allow for hourly New York-Boston service all day and half-hourly New York-Washington service at peak hours. The new trains will be called Avelia Liberty. They will have 30% greater seating capacity, active tilt technology and could operate at 186 miles per hour (299 km/h) if infrastructure improvements were completed to allow the higher speeds. The trains will be built by Alstom in Hornell and Rochester, New York. The new trains will be phased in between 2021 and 2022, after which the current fleet is to be retired. Amtrak will pay off the loans from increased NEC passenger revenue.
When the train was being tested at the technology center in Pueblo, Colo., I had lunch one day out on the ballast with the French and Canadian crews doing the testing. The conversation turned to the weight of the Acela, which the crews considered laughably too heavy. At one point, a French engineer confided that the crews called the train "le cochon", meaning "the pig". The man and his supervisor immediately realized he had said too much. They asked me to keep that a secret, and I did for many years until I was sure everyone on the program had moved on to other jobs.
Before the first train was built, the Federal Railroad Administration required it to meet crash safety standards that senior Amtrak officials considered too strict. That forced the manufacturers, Bombardier Inc. of Canada and GEC Alstom of France, to make the trains twice as heavy as European models. Workers dubbed the trains le cochon -- the pig.
The Amtrak Old Saybrook – Old Lyme Bridge is the last crossing of the Connecticut River before it reaches Long Island Sound. It is a Truss bridge with a bascule span, allowing boat traffic to go through. Its tracks are owned by Amtrak and used by Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Shore Line East trains traversing the Northeast Corridor. It can be seen from the Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge (Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1), as well as from various points on Route 154.Avelia Liberty
Avelia Liberty is a model of high-speed passenger train marketed by French train producer Alstom. It is related to the TGV and New Pendolino family of high-speed trains, but adapted for North American railroad standards, including U.S. Federal Railroad Administration crashworthiness standards. Amtrak has ordered 28 train sets for use on its Northeast Corridor, with service expected to start in 2021.BWI Rail Station
BWI Airport station is a train station located in Linthicum, Maryland near Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. It is served by Amtrak Northeast Corridor intercity trains and MARC Penn Line regional rail trains.
Located just over a mile from the airport's terminal, the station was the first intercity rail station in the U.S. built to service an airport. A free shuttle bus runs between the station and the airport terminal every 6 minutes from 5 am to 1 am and every 25 minutes from 1 am to 5 am.Although Penn Station is reckoned as the Baltimore area's main intercity station, BWI Airport is a major station in its own right. It is Amtrak's sixth-busiest station in the Mid-Atlantic region (behind New York Penn, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore Penn and Albany-Rensselaer) and the 12th busiest nationwide.
Unlike most major Amtrak stations along the Northeast Corridor, checked baggage service is not available at BWI.Back Bay station
Back Bay Station is an intermodal passenger station in Boston, Massachusetts. It is located just south of Copley Square in Boston's Back Bay and South End neighborhoods, it serves MBTA Commuter Rail and MBTA subway routes, and also serves as a secondary Amtrak intercity rail station for Boston. The present building, designed by Kallmann McKinnell & Wood, opened in 1987. It replaced the New Haven Railroad's older Back Bay station - which opened in 1928 as a replacement for an 1899-built station - as well as the New York Central's Huntington Avenue and Trinity Place stations which had been demolished in 1964.
Although South Station is Boston's primary rail hub, Back Bay maintains high traffic levels due to its location in the Back Bay neighborhood near the Prudential Center development and its access to important Northeast Corridor services. All Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains running to and from South Station stop at Back Bay, as does the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited. Four MBTA Commuter Rail routes - the Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line, Needham Line, and Framingham/Worcester Line - also stop at Back Bay, as do the Orange Line subway and several local MBTA Bus routes. It is the third-busiest MBTA Commuter Rail station (after North Station and South Station) and the fifth-busiest MBTA subway station.Cardinal (train)
The Cardinal is a thrice-weekly long distance passenger train operated by Amtrak between New York Penn Station and Chicago Union Station, with major intermediate stops at Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, Charleston, Huntington, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. It is one of three trains linking the Northeast to Chicago, the others being the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.
Trains depart New York City on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and depart Chicago on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The 1,146-mile (1,844 km) trip between Chicago and New York City takes 281⁄4 hours.The Hoosier State provides service on the 196-mile (315 km) segment of the Cardinal route between Indianapolis and Chicago on the four days of the week when it is not otherwise provided by the Cardinal. However, the Hoosier State will suspend operation on June 30, 2019, leaving the Cardinal as the only train running between Chicago and Indianapolis. During fiscal year 2016-2017, the Cardinal carried 112,432 passengers, up 7.25% from fiscal year 2015-2016. Overall, Amtrak recorded 31.7 million passenger trips in 2016-2017, an increase of 1.5% over the previous year, with total revenue of $3.2 billion, up 1.1% over the same time period.The Cardinal brings in approximately $7-8 Million per year in ticket revenue, most recent figures show revenue of $7,658,608 in fiscal year 2015-2016, relatively unchanged from the five years prior.Clinton station (Connecticut)
Clinton is a regional rail station served by Shore Line East, located near downtown Clinton, Connecticut. Clinton station consists of a small parking lot and one high-level side platform on the southbound side of the tracks.
Clinton is a commuter-only station; Amtrak's Acela Express and Northeast Regional services run through the station without stopping. Clinton is served by about 11 Shore Line East trains in each direction on weekdays and 5 in each direction on weekends.
A renovation project, planned to be completed in January 2021, will add a second platform and allow all Shore Line East trains to stop at Clinton.Crescent (train)
The Crescent is a daily long-distance passenger train operated by Amtrak in the eastern United States. It operates 1,377 miles (2,216 km) daily between Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans as train numbers 19 and 20. Major service stops outside the Northeast Corridor include Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Most of the route of the Crescent is on the Norfolk Southern Railway. It is the successor of numerous trains dating to 1891, and was first introduced in its present form in 1970 by Norfolk Southern's predecessor, the Southern Railway.
The Crescent passes through twelve states and the District of Columbia, more than any other Amtrak route.During fiscal year 2016, the Crescent carried 268,344 passengers, down 4.4% from the previous year, and had total revenue of $29,505,818, down 5.8%.High-speed rail in the United States
Plans for high-speed rail in the United States date back to the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965. Various state and federal proposals have followed. Despite being one of the world's first countries to get high-speed trains (the Metroliner service in 1969), it failed to spread. Definitions of what constitutes high-speed rail vary, including a range of speeds over 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) and dedicated rail lines. Inter-city rail in the United States with top speeds of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) or more but below 125 mph (201 km/h) is sometimes referred to as higher-speed rail.Amtrak's Acela Express (reaching 150 mph (240 km/h)), Northeast Regional, Keystone Service, and certain MARC Penn Line express trains (the three services reaching 125 mph (201 km/h)) are the only high-speed services in the country according to American standards, but elsewhere in the world "high speed" means services at or above 250 km/h (160 mph).
As of 2017, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is working on the California High Speed Rail project and construction is under way on sections traversing the Central Valley. Phase I is planned for completion in 2029, and Phase II is estimated to be completed before 2040.JetTrain
The JetTrain was an experimental high-speed passenger train created by Bombardier Transportation in an attempt to make European-style high-speed service more financially appealing to passenger railways in North America. It was designed to use the same LRC-derived tilting carriages as the Acela Express trains that Bombardier built for Amtrak in the 1990s and a similar locomotive. Unlike the Acela, powered electrically by overhead lines, the JetTrain locomotives used a combination of a diesel engine and multiple turboshaft engines. This would allow it to run at high speeds on non-electrified lines.Linden station (NJ Transit)
Linden is a New Jersey Transit station on the Northeast Corridor in Linden, New Jersey, United States. It is served by the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines and located downtown on an embankment south of South Wood Avenue.
This station has two high-level side platforms on six tracks. The four middle tracks are used by New Jersey Transit express trains as well as Amtrak's Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Keystone, and long distance trains that travel on this line.Metroliner (train)
The Metroliners were extra-fare high speed trains between Washington, D.C. and New York City which operated from 1969 to 2006. They were briefly first operated by Penn Central Transportation (successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which originally ordered the equipment), then by Amtrak for 35 years.
Service originally ran with Budd Metroliners, self-powered electric multiple unit cars designed for high-speed service. These proved unreliable and were replaced with locomotive-hauled trains in the 1980s. The trains had reserved business-class and first-class seating. The fastest trips between New York's Pennsylvania Station and Washington, D.C.'s Union Station were scheduled for 2.5 hours, though some midday trains around 1980 had schedules as long as 4 hours.Amtrak replaced Metroliner service with the high-speed Acela Express, which runs up to 150 mph (240 km/h) in revenue service. The first Acela Express trains ran in 2000, but due to equipment difficulties they did not fully replace the Metroliners until 2006.Northeast Corridor
The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railroad line in the Northeast megalopolis of the United States. Owned primarily by Amtrak, it runs from Boston through Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia through Wilmington, and Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The NEC closely parallels Interstate 95 for most of its length, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency as of 2013. The NEC carries more than 2,200 trains daily. Branches to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts, and various points in Virginia are not considered part of the Northeast Corridor, despite frequent service from routes that run largely on the corridor.
The corridor is used by many Amtrak trains, including the high-speed Acela Express, intercity trains, and several long-distance trains. Most of the corridor also has frequent commuter rail service, operated by the MBTA, Shore Line East, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, and MARC. Several companies run freight trains over sections of the NEC.
Much of the line is built for speeds higher than the 79 mph (127 km/h) maximum allowed on many U.S. tracks. Amtrak operates intercity Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains at up to 125 mph (201 km/h), as well as North America's only high-speed train, the Acela Express, which runs up to 150 mph (240 km/h) on a few sections in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Acela covers the 225 miles (362 km) between New York and Washington, D.C., in under 3 hours, and the 229 miles (369 km) between New York and Boston in under 3.5 hours. Under Amtrak's $151 billion Northeast Corridor plan, which hopes to roughly halve travel times by 2040, trips between New York and Washington via Philadelphia would take 94 minutes.Northeast Corridor Line
The Northeast Corridor Line is a commuter rail line operated by New Jersey Transit along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in the United States. It is the successor to Pennsylvania Railroad trains between Trenton Transit Center and New York Penn Station, and is New Jersey Transit's busiest commuter rail line. After arrival at New York Penn Station, some trains load passengers and return to New Jersey, while others continue east to Sunnyside Yard for storage. Most servicing is done at the Morrisville Yard, at the west end of the line. The Northeast Corridor Line is colored red on New Jersey Transit system maps and its symbol is the State House. The Princeton Branch is a shuttle service connecting to the line.Northeast Regional
The Northeast Regional is a regional rail service operated by Amtrak in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States. In the past it has been known as the NortheastDirect, Acela Regional, or Regional. It is the busiest Amtrak route, carrying 8,686,930 passengers in fiscal year (FY) 2018, a 1.4% increase over the 8.57 million passengers in FY2017. The Northeast Regional service earned over $613.9 million in gross ticket revenue in FY2016, a 0.4% increase over the $611.7 million earned during FY2015.There is daily all-reserved service about every hour during the day. Trains generally run along the Northeast Corridor between Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., via New York City. Extensions, branches and Shuttle trains provide service to Springfield, Massachusetts, and Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk and Roanoke, Virginia.
Travel times are about 4.5 hours between Norfolk or Newport News and Washington, 5 hours between Roanoke and Washington, under two hours between Washington and Philadelphia, 1.5 hours between Philadelphia and New York, 3.5 hours between New York and Springfield, and four hours between New York and Boston. Travel times between Washington and New York are typically slightly faster than the equivalent travel time by car.Pacific Surfliner
The Pacific Surfliner is a 350-mile (560 km) passenger train service operated by Amtrak, serving the communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo.
The service carried 2,924,117 passengers during fiscal year 2016, a 3.4% increase from FY2015. Total revenue during FY2016 was $73,020,267, an increase of 3.6% over FY2015. The Pacific Surfliner is Amtrak's third-busiest service (exceeded in ridership only by the Northeast Regional and Acela Express), and the busiest outside the Northeast Corridor.The route is the successor of the San Diegan, a Los Angeles-San Diego service which had been one of the premier trains of the Santa Fe Railway until Amtrak took over operations in 1971. Initially there were three daily trips, but the schedule was expanded to six round trips during the 1970s with funding from the state of California. In 1988 the service was extended to Santa Barbara, followed in 1995 with one trip a day going all the way to San Luis Obispo. As the name "San Diegan" no longer reflected the extent of the route, it was renamed the Pacific Surfliner in 2000. The route is named after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's Surf Line.
Like all regional trains in California, the Pacific Surfliner is operated by a joint powers authority. The Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency is governed by a board that includes eleven elected representatives from the six counties the train travels through. LOSSAN contracts with the Orange County Transportation Authority to provide day-to-day management of the service and with contracts with Amtrak to operate the service and maintain the rolling stock (locomotives and passenger cars). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provides the funding to operate the service and also owns some of the rolling stock. The Surfliner coaches, primarily used on the Pacific Surfliner, are named after it.Penn Line
The Penn Line is a MARC commuter rail service running from Union Station in Washington, D.C., to Perryville, Maryland, via Baltimore's Penn Station on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. It is MARC's busiest and only electric line. With trains running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour (201 km/h), it is the fastest commuter line in the United States. The service is operated under contract by Amtrak which supplies employees to operate trains, and maintains the right-of-way and MARC's electric locomotives and passenger cars. The line is administered by MARC, a service of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).
The Penn Line is the successor to commuter services provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Penn Central, and Conrail as long ago as the mid-19th century. Additionally, Amtrak operated a commuter service named the Chesapeake between 1978–1983. In 1983, Maryland, along with a number of other Northeastern states, took control of its commuter railroads and the "MARC" (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) service name was established. The Penn Line became the replacement for Amtrak's Chesapeake as well as the minimal former PRR commuter service between Washington and Baltimore.Providence/Stoughton Line
The Providence/Stoughton Line is a line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system running southwest from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The main line was originally built by the Boston and Providence Railroad, and now carries commuter trains between South Station in Boston and Wickford Junction station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The Stoughton Branch, built as the Stoughton Branch Railroad, splits at Canton Junction and runs for two more stations to Stoughton station in Stoughton, Massachusetts.
An extension of the Providence section of the line to T. F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction opened in stages in 2010 and 2012, making the Providence/Stoughton Line the longest of the MBTA's commuter rail lines (surpassing the Fitchburg Line), while an extension of the Stoughton Branch to New Bedford and Fall River is under construction.
All stations are handicapped accessible with short or full-length high level platforms. Newer stations like T.F. Green Airport, and Amtrak stations like Providence, usually have full-length high level platforms; older stations have mostly been retrofitted with high-level platforms one car length long. The line is the busiest on the MBTA Commuter Rail system, with 25,728 daily boardings by a 2018 count.Route 128 station
Route 128 (sometimes subtitled Dedham-Westwood or University Park or called the Westwood – Route 128 Station) is a passenger rail station in Westwood, Massachusetts. It is located at the crossing of the Northeast Corridor and Interstate 95/US 1/Route 128 at the eastern tip of Westwood and Dedham. It is served by most MBTA Commuter Rail Providence/Stoughton Line commuter trains, as well as by all Amtrak Northeast Regional and Acela Express intercity trains. The station area and platforms are owned by Amtrak, but the MBTA owns the parking garage and tracks.Route 128 station opened in 1953 as a park-and-ride facility and was rebuilt in 2000 with a large parking garage. The station has no bus connections and low walkability to Westwood, Dedham, or the nearby towns of Norwood and Canton, however substantial development has occurred just south of the station. It is one of only a few MBTA stations that permits overnight parking. A separate entrance to the garage is used for overnight parking, which is intended for Amtrak customers. Unlike most MBTA stations, credit cards and even E-ZPass transponders are accepted for payment of parking fees.
The station has full-length high-level platforms serving both tracks and is fully handicapped accessible.Texas Central Railway
Texas Central or Texas Central Partners, LLC is a private company that is proposing a high-speed rail line between Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. It plans to use technology based on that used by the Central Japan Railway Company. The company has indicated that the journey time would be less than 90 minutes. This would make it the second high-speed rail service in North America after the Northeast Corridor's Acela Express, and the first dedicated high-speed line.
Northeast Corridor services