Urban Transport

Amtrak's new high-speed trains are faster, fancier and more frugal

Amtrak's new high-speed trains...
The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
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The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
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The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
Amtrak is ordering 28 of the trainsets, which is 40 percent more than its current high-speed fleet
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Amtrak is ordering 28 of the trainsets, which is 40 percent more than its current high-speed fleet
Passengers will benefit from a smoother ride, in part as a result of Alstom's "anticipative tilting system"
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Passengers will benefit from a smoother ride, in part as a result of Alstom's "anticipative tilting system"
The "anticipative tilting system" will also help the trains to run at higher speeds than would be the case without it
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The "anticipative tilting system" will also help the trains to run at higher speeds than would be the case without it
The trains will use at least 20 percent less energy than their predecessors, as a result of their lightweight design and the articulated architectures
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The trains will use at least 20 percent less energy than their predecessors, as a result of their lightweight design and the articulated architectures
Regenerative braking technology will see energy captured during braking fed back into the overhead power system for reuse
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Regenerative braking technology will see energy captured during braking fed back into the overhead power system for reuse
The first prototype of the new trains is expected to be ready in 2019, with the first train due to enter service in 2021
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The first prototype of the new trains is expected to be ready in 2019, with the first train due to enter service in 2021
Amtrak estimates an eightfold increase in reliability compared to the outgoing trains
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Amtrak estimates an eightfold increase in reliability compared to the outgoing trains
The trains will feature improved Wi-Fi access, personal power outlets and USB ports
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The trains will feature improved Wi-Fi access, personal power outlets and USB ports
The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
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The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express
The trains will boast an "enhanced" food service
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The trains will boast an "enhanced" food service

Passengers who travel on Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express service in the US will soon be able to do so more comfortably and more regularly. The rail operator has unveiled designs for next-generation, high-speed trainsets that will replace its existing rolling stock and offer greater capacity.

The new trains are being introduced as part of a wider scheme to upgrade infrastructure for the Acela Express, which runs between Washington DC and Boston via 14 other stops. Produced by transport company Alstom, they will boast a number of modern passenger conveniences like improved Wi-Fi access, personal power outlets and USB ports, the likes of which are being added to services elsewhere, too.

Amtrak says that, in addition to improved comfort for passengers, there will also be an improved boarding experience and food service, along with a third more seats than the trains being replaced. Passengers will apparently benefit from a smoother ride, in part as a result of an "anticipative tilting system."

This tilting system is completely train-borne, so it doesn't require special track installations. It pairs data on the line's parameters with information gathered by onboard sensors, allowing the system to locate the train's position on the line and prepare to tilt for upcoming bends. This allows the trains to take curves at higher speeds and with greater comfort for the passengers onboard.

When they first enter operation, the new trains are expected to have a top speed of 160 mph (257 km/h), a decent increase on the 150 mph (241 km/h) that the current models are capable of. Subsequent infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line, however, should enable them to eventually travel at speeds of up to 186 mph (299 km/h).

The trains will feature improved Wi-Fi access, personal power outlets and USB ports
The trains will feature improved Wi-Fi access, personal power outlets and USB ports

It is believed that the trains will use at least 20 percent less energy than their predecessors as a result of a lighter design and new articulated structures joining the carriages together. In addition, the system will also capture energy during braking and feed it back into the overhead power system for reuse.

Amtrak is ordering 28 of the trainsets, which is 40 percent more than its current high-speed fleet. As a result, there will be more regular Acela Express services between Washington DC and New York City, as well as between New York City and Boston. Furthermore, Amtrak says that the trains are based on a design that has already been proven in service, and as a result it estimates an eightfold increase in reliability compared to the outgoing trains.

The first prototype of the new trains is expected to be ready in 2019, with the first train due to enter service in 2021. All of the ordered trains are expected to be in service by the end of 2022.

Source: Amtrak

12 comments
Milton
Anticipated tilting system sounds awesome. Lets just hope by the time these things come out there are able / allowed to fully automate them. It's a joke that humans still control these things.
Derek Howe
They look cool. I've never rode on any high speed train before, I imagine I would like it.
RicardoJoseMartinezRamos
Seriously? In Europe we've had high speed (300kph) tilting trains for years. Look up French TGV, Spanish AVE and Talgo, and Italian Pendolino. Not to mention Japan's Shinkasen, bullet train, or China's network of high speed trains, currently the largest in the world by number of miles covered.
MartinLebel
European trains!... USA is decades behind in this regard.
Willyt
It's about time!!!!! And what about the West Coast? and Intercontinental? Come on folks, lets get with it....time is short!
jetserf
It's nice that those of us in the US are able to see advances in train technology. I would guess since the cost of automobile ownership is lower than in Europe and Asia trains have much more competition in the US than abroad. In addition, a lot fewer US cities have train stops compared to other countries. My wife is from Germany and some fairly small towns are linked to the rail network with train stops.
ljaques
Are you kidding me? White upholstery on a public conveyance? That will look like crap within a week and be uncleanable within a month. I hope the seats are fully adjustable. I'd love to see high-speed rail here in Oregon and on the rest of the West Coast. The anticipating tilt feature is sure to provide some spectacular crashes, but they'll be comfy! I wonder how much the increase in the daily fare will be, to cover the cost of 28 new trainsets. BTW, how does the financially strapped Amtrack "invest" $2.4 billion in trains, anyway? High- speed rail is a wonderful and comfy thing, but which other projects are slowed or completely stopped in order to pay for this D.C. (g) upgrade? When I see people in the USA going hungry, while D.C. politicians and the rich get their taxpayer-funded expensive high-speed rail, I get a bit miffed.
Mayakovski
150 MPH increase to 160 MPH, is not a "decent increase", that is a pathetic increase.
windykites
What is cheaper than tilting trains? A track which is sloped on curves. Just a thought... The UK was the first country to have a tilting train, but it was not successful. I can't remember why. Train carriages are now connected by a bogie each end, which reduces the number required by 50%.
Gary Richardson
I wouldn't want these trains in my state when Hyperloop is so close to full scale development.