The Obama administration’s dream of a national high-speed rail network has floundered. However that hasn’t stopped it from making a big investment in the US’s only operating high-speed route.
Yesterday, vice president Joe Biden and other government officials announced a $2.5 billion loan to Amtrak, the national passenger railroad, to finance the replacement of Acela trains and perform upgrades to stations along the route, which runs from Boston through New York and Philadelphia before terminating in Washington.
The 28 new trains will be built by solely by France’s Alstom to replace the current set of 20 trains first introduced in 1999 jointly by Alstom and Canada’s Bombardier. They are called the Avelia Liberty and will have 33% more seats and allow for more frequent departures. The loans will be paid back using the growth in route revenues.
A video posted to the Amtrak YouTube page says that the trains could travel as fast as 220 miles per hour (35o km per hour), a vast improvement over the current 165 mph top speed of the current Acela trains.
However those speeds are only theoretical. In practice the trains must travel slower due to regulations and track infrastructure.
Current Acela service reaches a top speed of 150mph between Boston and New York and a top speed of 135mph between New York and Washington. The new trains are expected to initially reach 160mph.
The first prototype trains are scheduled to be delivered in 2019 and the first revenue service in 2021.