Amtrak’s new Acela speeds toward service

May 22, 2020

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Amtrak’s new Acela trainsets are still on schedule to enter into service next year.

The rolling stock has been undergoing testing in Pueblo, Colorado since February, and recently hit a higher speed benchmark.

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According to Amtrak, the first new Acela reached a speed of 165 miles per hour as part of a test — though the train’s top service speed will be limited to 160 miles per hour.

Even so, that’s 10 miles per hour faster than the top speed of the existing, first-generation Acela trains.

The new Acelas remain on track despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected Amtrak service nationally. The higher-speed service itself was suspended for a time this spring, though Amtrak recently brought it back on a reduced schedule.

Acela’s second generation has been in development since 2016, and will feature an improved onboard experience as well as extra passenger capacity when it joins the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington next year.

Related: TPG’s race from New York City to Washington

Planned updates include touchless restrooms — sure to be a welcome advancement post-pandemic — and a new reservation system that will allow passengers to select a seat in advance. Even though the Acela is Amtrak’s premier train, seating is still handled on a first-come, first-served basis for anyone who doesn’t have a first-class ticket.

Amtrak’s Acela service has long been popular in the Northeast, but the trains, some of which have been in service nearly 20 years, are starting to show their age. The next generation is sure to be a welcome upgrade for passengers.

Featured photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy

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