Amtrak's Planning a Big Upgrade for Acela Express
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Since 2000, Amtrak's Acela Express service has carried millions of passengers between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The current trains have a top speed of 150mph, but they rarely achieve that speed due to limitations with the rails the trains ride on. Thanks to $2.45 billion in government funds, though, the Acela Express service will be getting a huge upgrade come 2021.
The highlight of these upgrades will be the all-new train sets to be manufactured in New York state by French firm Alstom. The new trains will be capable of hitting a maximum speed of 186mph — close to Japan's Shinkansen trains that travel at a maximum speed of about 200mph. In addition to higher speeds, the new trains will carry one-third more passengers, feature more power outlets and USB ports, have superior Wi-Fi connectivity and will be more efficient.
In addition to the all-new trains, Amtrak will invest in much needed improvements to key stations and infrastructure along the entire Northeast Corridor. It's already begun making enhancements to the passenger experience, starting with the opening of a new lounge in Chicago's Union Station.
Keep in mind that you can get free train rides and first-class upgrades by signing up for the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.