Amtrak is giving its trains an upgrade.
In 2021, Amtrak will start rolling out 28 high-speed trains for its Acela Express service along the Northeast corridor.
Here’s everything you need to know about them:
Amtrak is releasing the high-speed trains as part of its $2.45 billion investment in the Northeast Corridor.
The majority of that federal loan ($2 billion to be exact) will go toward the new trains, while the rest will fund improvements to the tracks and train stations along the route.
Amtrak is contracting with Alstom — the creator of France’s high-speed rail, the TGV — to create the high-speed trains. The TGV operates at 200 mph.
The new trains will be 30% lighter, cutting down on energy consumption by 20%, Amtrak said.
They will initially operate at 160 mph, but have the ability to reach 186 mph, Amtrak said. However, your overall trip time isn’t bound to improve.
Without major improvements to the physical railroad tracks, the trains won’t be able to reach their high-speed potential, Mark Yachmetz, senior vice president for Amtrak’s fleet and rail initiatives, told Business Insider.
That’s because the Northeast Corridor, first built in 1976 and given minor improvements over time, can only accommodate speeds under 100 mph in most areas. Some areas of the track can’t accommodate speeds above 25 mph.
As a result, trip times will remain largely the same.
Still, the project will improve the Amtrak travel experience in some ways. Releasing 28 more trains will allow for half-hourly service between Washington, DC, and New York during peak hours, and hourly service between New York and Boston.
The trains will also increase passenger capacity by 35%.
And the interiors are getting an upgrade, too. Updated features include improved Wi-Fi, adjustable reading lights, more USB ports, more outlets, and better food service.
The prototype of the high-speed train will be ready in 2019, with some rolling out for service in 2021. By 2022, all 28 trains will be operating.