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In the world of high-speed rail, Amtrak doesn't want to be the little engine

China High Speed 9252012
China Photos / Getty Images
Amtrak is trying to catch up to China’s high speeds.
By Gloria Dawson
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

US train operator Amtrak will begin testing its fastest trains at 165 miles per hour, the company announced (PDF),with a view toward increasing the current top speed of 150 miles per hour to 160 in areas of the northeast US. The new speed is still slower than the 200 miles per hour that European and Asian high-speed trains routinely travel at, according to NPR’s  Transportation Nation Blog.

The tests, beginning tonight and stretching through the week, are designed to pave the way for passenger service of 160 miles per hour on about 100 miles of route between Boston and Washington D.C.. Each stretch being tested is between 20 and 30 miles long. Federal regulations require tests of 5 miles per hour. above maximum operating speeds.

The testing is part of the government’s six-year plan to build the US  high-speed rail network announced by US Vice President Joe Biden in early 2011.

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