Amtrak announces next generation Acela
As a frequent Amtrak rider I was excited to see an email from Amtrak this week announcing their next-generation Acela train service. Although I ride the Acela much more infrequently than the (less expensive) Northeast Regional service, I do sometimes opt for the time savings and improved comfort that Acela can offer.
(All photos in this article courtesy of Amtrak)
Benefits of Acela
Currently Acela offers two classes of service: business and first class. I have found that business class on Acela really doesn’t offer much more than standard Northeast Regional service–the seat has a bit more legroom, the trays are a bit larger, and the train is faster with speeds up to 150mph. Unfortunately, the trains can rarely achieve speeds close to their max due to the congestion in the northeast corridor. For example, on a trip from Washington DC to Philadelphia the Acela will be about 20 minutes shorter than the 2 hour ride on the Regional service.
Acela first class is definitely a step up, but still somewhat disappointing. A few months ago I reviewed Acela First Class here: My Acela First Class Review. Since that review I have ridden in First Class once more, and will be posting an updated review shortly. Bottom line is that my second experience with Acela First Class was better than the first, and I found increased value–but unless using a complimentary upgrade, it is still not worth the added cost. First Class does offer meal service, free drinks, lounge access, and a pretty comfortable seat.
The Next Generation Acela
This week Amtrak announced that the next generation Acela trains will begin service in 2021. Accordingly Amtrak has started investing in infrastructure to support the new trains. According to Amtrak’s press release, “this investment will expand and modernize the Acela Express service you’ve come to expect, while adding the amenities and ride quality of international high-speed train services.” The trains will depart every hour between Boston and Washington DC throughout the day, and run every 30 minutes between New York and Washington during peak times.
The interior of the new trains looks much more modern and promises: more seating, while preserving the space and comfort onboard today; personal power and USB outlets at every seat; improved wifi; adjustable lighting; and improved food options.
This is the new business class:
The new cafe car:
And this is what the new first class will look like:
Amtrak states that these new trains “are among the safest, most reliable and energy efficient in the world… and will be at least eight times more reliable than the equipment it replaces.”
The trains will initially travel at speeds up to 160mph on some portions of the track; however they are capable of speed of up to 185mph in the future. Amtrak is paying for the upgrades as part of a $2.45 billion loan from the government that was announced August 26 by Vice President Joe Biden. Hopefully, Amtrak does not significantly increase the cost of Acela (or Northeast Regional) tickets to pay back this loan.
2021 is still a long way off, but I personally think that this type of investment in the highly traveled Northeast corridor will improve rail service and benefit transportation for decades to come. Looking forward to reviewing the new Acela in a few years!
Let me know about your experiences on Amtrak!