Play Video
1
Amtrak Acela Express in 150 mph Zone
Amtrak Acela Express in 150 mph Zone
::2009/09/05::
Play Video
2
Amtrak HD EXCLUSIVE: Acela Express Train 2165 Boston to New York Full Ride (8/21/13)
Amtrak HD EXCLUSIVE: Acela Express Train 2165 Boston to New York Full Ride (8/21/13)
::2013/08/25::
Play Video
3
HD: Amtrak Acela Express NEC 165Mph Speed Test
HD: Amtrak Acela Express NEC 165Mph Speed Test
::2012/09/25::
Play Video
4
Train ride from NY Penn Station heading toward DE (Acela Express)
Train ride from NY Penn Station heading toward DE (Acela Express)
::2013/07/16::
Play Video
5
Train Simulator 2013 Game Play Amtrak Acela Express Silver Star Full Senario HD
Train Simulator 2013 Game Play Amtrak Acela Express Silver Star Full Senario HD
::2013/03/10::
Play Video
6
Amtrak Acela Express with Horn Action!!!
Amtrak Acela Express with Horn Action!!!
::2010/06/14::
Play Video
7
Acela Express ride from Washingon DC Union station to New York city, USA.
Acela Express ride from Washingon DC Union station to New York city, USA.
::2013/01/26::
Play Video
8
Acela Express 2255 in Kingston RI at 150mph!!!!
Acela Express 2255 in Kingston RI at 150mph!!!!
::2008/05/18::
Play Video
9
Amtrak Acela Express & Northeast Regional at High Speed CLOSE UP
Amtrak Acela Express & Northeast Regional at High Speed CLOSE UP
::2013/12/27::
Play Video
10
Train Simulator 2014 HD: Amtrak Acela Express More Furious Minutes Scenario (Trenton - NYP)
Train Simulator 2014 HD: Amtrak Acela Express More Furious Minutes Scenario (Trenton - NYP)
::2013/12/08::
Play Video
11
Train Simulator 2012 - Amtrak Acela Express - Northeast Corridor
Train Simulator 2012 - Amtrak Acela Express - Northeast Corridor
::2012/07/29::
Play Video
12
Amtrak Acela Express Train No. 2166 arriving & Departing NYC Penn Station to Boston South Station
Amtrak Acela Express Train No. 2166 arriving & Departing NYC Penn Station to Boston South Station
::2010/01/09::
Play Video
13
The Acela Express Review (Part 1)
The Acela Express Review (Part 1)
::2010/08/16::
Play Video
14
The Amtrak Acela Express - The US Most super high speed Rail Service and Train
The Amtrak Acela Express - The US Most super high speed Rail Service and Train
::2014/08/01::
Play Video
15
HQ Onboard Amtrak
HQ Onboard Amtrak's Acela Express from Boston to Providence
::2009/12/20::
Play Video
16
TS2014: Amtrak Acela Express
TS2014: Amtrak Acela Express
::2014/02/25::
Play Video
17
Acela Express Overtakes MBTA in Attleboro!
Acela Express Overtakes MBTA in Attleboro!
::2014/05/25::
Play Video
18
Acela EXPRESS, Bachmann HO
Acela EXPRESS, Bachmann HO
::2012/07/18::
Play Video
19
HD High Speed 150 MPH Acela Express Train in Mansfield, MA
HD High Speed 150 MPH Acela Express Train in Mansfield, MA
::2011/08/01::
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20
Train Simulator 2013 | Acela Express Philadelphia to New York with REAL TRAFFIC
Train Simulator 2013 | Acela Express Philadelphia to New York with REAL TRAFFIC
::2013/04/06::
Play Video
21
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express EMU Physics Fix Pack Release Video
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express EMU Physics Fix Pack Release Video
::2014/02/23::
Play Video
22
The Acela Express Review (Part 2)
The Acela Express Review (Part 2)
::2010/08/17::
Play Video
23
Onboartd Amtrak Acela Express - 147mph GPS First Class
Onboartd Amtrak Acela Express - 147mph GPS First Class
::2014/05/31::
Play Video
24
Train Simulator 2014- DLC Spotlight: NEC Route & Acela Express
Train Simulator 2014- DLC Spotlight: NEC Route & Acela Express
::2014/01/06::
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25
Train Simulator 2013 Game Play Amtrak Acela Express Business Bullet Full Senario HD
Train Simulator 2013 Game Play Amtrak Acela Express Business Bullet Full Senario HD
::2013/07/23::
Play Video
26
HD 150 MPH Acela Express meets Amtrak Regional
HD 150 MPH Acela Express meets Amtrak Regional
::2012/05/30::
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27
Walk from Penn Station (Acela Express train) to Pennsylvania Hotel, New York, USA.
Walk from Penn Station (Acela Express train) to Pennsylvania Hotel, New York, USA.
::2012/12/30::
Play Video
28
N Scale Bachmann Amtrak Acela Express Train Set
N Scale Bachmann Amtrak Acela Express Train Set
::2013/11/26::
Play Video
29
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express Stopping at Stamford and New Rochelle
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express Stopping at Stamford and New Rochelle
::2014/04/12::
Play Video
30
[Fr] Let
[Fr] Let's Play Train Simulator 2014 - Class Acela Express
::2014/01/08::
Play Video
31
Test Track: Lionel Acela -1
Test Track: Lionel Acela -1
::2007/12/20::
Play Video
32
Acela Express review
Acela Express review
::2014/02/04::
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33
Bachmann Trains: Acela Express
Bachmann Trains: Acela Express
::2012/01/02::
Play Video
34
Acela Express Review
Acela Express Review
::2013/08/20::
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35
Acela Express
Acela Express
::2013/07/06::
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36
Amtrak Acela Express Commercial
Amtrak Acela Express Commercial
::2010/04/19::
Play Video
37
Acela Express departs Penn Station
Acela Express departs Penn Station
::2013/06/18::
Play Video
38
HO Acela Express Arriving in Boston, MA on the MLRR
HO Acela Express Arriving in Boston, MA on the MLRR
::2013/08/08::
Play Video
39
Acela Express Train Simulator
Acela Express Train Simulator
::2012/10/27::
Play Video
40
Amtrak
Amtrak's Acela Express Warns Track Workers @ Canton JCT
::2014/08/18::
Play Video
41
[HD] Acela Express No.2255 and MBTA- Boston Back Bay Station, MA
[HD] Acela Express No.2255 and MBTA- Boston Back Bay Station, MA
::2012/05/09::
Play Video
42
Riding Acela Express from Metropark, NJ to Washington D.C. at top speed 150 mph
Riding Acela Express from Metropark, NJ to Washington D.C. at top speed 150 mph
::2009/12/05::
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43
Tren Acela Express.wmv
Tren Acela Express.wmv
::2010/03/21::
Play Video
44
New Acela Express from NYC Penn Station 19 to Newark Penn Track 3
New Acela Express from NYC Penn Station 19 to Newark Penn Track 3
::2013/10/11::
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45
Amtrak Acela Express - Destinations
Amtrak Acela Express - Destinations
::2007/04/11::
Play Video
46
Railworks 4 (TS2013) - Northeast Corridor "Acela Express" (NORAC Operating Rules 10th Edition)
Railworks 4 (TS2013) - Northeast Corridor "Acela Express" (NORAC Operating Rules 10th Edition)
::2013/09/18::
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47
HO Scale Acela Express
HO Scale Acela Express
::2010/10/08::
Play Video
48
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express EMU (Physics Fix) Stops at Metropark Station
Train Simulator 2014 HD EXCLUSIVE: Amtrak Acela Express EMU (Physics Fix) Stops at Metropark Station
::2014/02/23::
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49
ACELA EXPRESS NEC PORTABLE  LAYOUT
ACELA EXPRESS NEC PORTABLE LAYOUT
::2009/01/23::
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50
MSTS-Amtrak Acela Express Cab Ride Washington-Philadelphia Part 1
MSTS-Amtrak Acela Express Cab Ride Washington-Philadelphia Part 1
::2012/06/12::
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RESULTS [51 .. 101]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Acela logo.png
Acela Express
Acela old saybrook ct summer2011.jpg
Amtrak Acela Express train, led by power car #2009, at Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Overview
Service type Inter-city, high speed tilting train
Status Operating
Locale Northeastern United States
First service December 11, 2000 (2000-12-11)
Current operator(s) Amtrak
Ridership 8,818 (per day in 2010)
3,218,718 (total in 2010)[1]
Route
Start Boston, MA
Stops 14
End Washington, DC
Distance travelled 456 mi (734 km)
Average journey time 6 hours 45 min[2]
Service frequency 20 per day[2][3]
Train number(s) 2100–2297
On-board services
Class(es) Business and first class
Disabled access Fully accessible
Seating arrangements Reclining leather seats (4 across in business class, 3 across in first class)
Catering facilities On-board café, and at-seat meals in first class
Baggage facilities Overhead bins and luggage racks available, no checked luggage.
Technical
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed 150 mph (240 km/h) maximum[4][dead link]
84 mph (135 km/h) average[5]
70 mph (110 km/h) average, including stops
Route map
Amtrak acela.png

The Acela Express (/əˈsɛlə/ ə-SEL; colloquially abbreviated to Acela) is Amtrak's high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeast United States between Washington, D.C., and Boston via 14 intermediate stops including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. Acela Express trains are the fastest trainsets in the Americas; the highest speed they attain is 150 mph (240 km/h). Acela trains use tilting technology which allows the train to travel at higher speeds on the sharply curved NEC without disturbing passengers, by lowering lateral centrifugal forces.[6] Compared to other high-speed rail systems, Acela is unusual[citation needed] in that it shares tracks with freight and slower passenger trains (unlike the Japanese Shinkansen and the over 125 mph (201 km/h) tracks of the French TGV and German Intercity-Express), as well as the advanced age of infrastructure in many segments of the system and the low average speed of the trains along their route.[7][8]

In 2013 the fastest Acela run between Boston and Washington covers the 454 miles (731 km) in six and a half hours,[9] an average speed of slightly under 70 mph (110 km/h). Amtrak has a long-term plan which would reduce the time to 3 hours by 2040, primarily by acquiring more modern trains and reducing or eliminating congestion with other trains on the NEC, at speeds of up to 220 mph (350 km/h).[10]

Acela has helped Amtrak capture a 75% share of air/train commuters between New York and Washington in 2011, up from 37% in 2000.[11][12] Due to this competition, some airlines have even canceled service between Washington and New York.[13] Between New York and Boston the Acela Express has up to a 54% share of the combined train and air market.[14][15]

The Acela carried more than 3.3 million passengers in fiscal year 2013;[16] second only to the somewhat slower and cheaper Northeast Regional, which had over 8 million passengers in FY 2013.[16] The Acela Express had a total revenue of US$530,820,821 in 2013, up from $409,251,483 back in 2009. The Acelas accounted for approximately 25% of all total revenue generated by Amtrak services. (Another 25% came from Northeast Regional traffic, and roughly 25% each for long-distance trains and state-supported corridor services throughout the rest of the country).[17]

Origins and history[edit]

Background[edit]

Following the success of high-speed rail in Japan, the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 authorized the U.S. government to explore the creation of high-speed rail in the U.S. which resulted in the introduction of Metroliner trains, the predecessor to Acela. During the 1980s the US Federal Railroad Administration explored the possibilities of high-speed rail in the United States. On December 18, 1991 a slate of five potential high speed rail corridors were authorized ("Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) (PL 102-240)") including the Northeast Corridor.[18] During October 1992 another five corridors were announced individually.[18] During 1993, the US government under Bill Clinton discussed a $1 billion funding program to drive the development of a 2,000 miles (3,200 km) high-speed rail network.[citation needed]

Amtrak started to ask railway equipment manufacturers for implementation options. An X 2000 train was leased from Sweden for test runs from October 1992 to January 1993. It was operated from Washington DC to New York City from February to May and August to September 1993. Siemens showed the ICE 1 train, organizing the ICE Train North America Tour which started to operate on the Northeast Corridor on July 3, 1993.[19] This testing allowed Amtrak to define a set of specifications that went into a public tender in October 1994.[20]

Building and development[edit]

Northbound Acela on the Northeast Corridor south of Philadelphia

On March 9, 1999 Amtrak unveiled its plan for a high-speed train, the Acela Express.[21] Twenty new trains were to run on the Northeast Corridor.[22] Several changes were made to the corridor to make it suitable for the trains' operation. It was necessary to provide electrification from New Haven to Boston to complete the overhead power supply along the 454 miles (731 km) route,[22] and several grade crossings were upgraded or removed.[23]

In October 1994[20] Amtrak requested bids from train manufacturers for a trainset that could reach 150 miles per hour (240 km/h). A joint project of Bombardier (75%) and GEC Alsthom (now Alstom) (25%) was selected in March 1996.[20] A disagreement arose between Amtrak and the manufacturing consortium over costs and maintenance bills; this dispute was not settled until March 2004, but development was not interrupted.[24][25]

An inaugural VIP run of the Acela came on November 17, 2000[26] followed by the first revenue run on December 11, a few months past the intended date.[27]

The Acela service is considered a success.[28] By 2005, Amtrak's share of the common-carrier market between New York and Boston had reached 40% from 18% pre-Acela.[29] With the increasing popularity of the faster and more modern Acela Express, the Metroliner service was phased out;[30] the last operated on October 27, 2006.[31]

Due to the level of popularity experienced, more Acela Express services were added in September 2005,[32] and more trains may be purchased in order to run additional simultaneous services.[33] By August 2008 crowding had become noticeable on board.[34]

In 2011, Amtrak announced that forty new Acela coaches would be ordered in 2012 to increase capacity on existing train sets. Each of the existing trains would receive two more coaches, giving an almost 40% increase in capacity. The additional coaches would lengthen the train sets from a 1-6-1 configuration to a 1-8-1 configuration (power car - passenger cars - power car). The longer train sets would have required the modifications of the Acela maintenance facilities in Boston, New York and Washington. The first of the stretched train sets were to enter service in Fiscal year 2014.[35]

This plan was cancelled in 2012 in favor of replacing, rather than refurbishing, the Acela fleet.[36]

In January 2014, Amtrak issued a request for proposals on 28 or more new model Acelas trainsets, in a combined order with the California High-Speed Rail Authority. These bids were due May 17, 2014. Amtrak will study the bids and make a decision by the end of 2014.[37]

Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority have decided not to pursue a joint procurement program for high-speed trainsets. After meeting and listening to the builders who expressed interest, Amtrak and the Authority concluded that obtaining a meaningful common platform would result in suboptimal solutions for Amtrak and the Authority, move us[who?] away from a service-proven design, and create significant risks as to schedule and costs.[38]

As of 2011, the Acela fleet had reached half of its designed service life. Amtrak has proposed several replacement options, including one as part of its A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor.[39]

Cost[edit]

Amtrak's original contract with the Bombardier-Alstom consortium was for the delivery of 20 trainsets (6 coaches each, with power cars at front and rear) for $800 million.[40] By 2004, Amtrak had settled contract disputes with the consortium, paying a total of $1.2 billion for the 20 trainsets plus 15 extra high-speed locomotives and the construction of maintenance facilities in Boston, New York, and Washington.[24][25]

Criticism[edit]

Despite billions of dollars in investment, Acela Express's fastest schedule between New York and Washington, D.C. was 2 hours and 45 minutes in 2012. $450 million was allotted by President Barack Obama's administration to replace catenary and upgrade signals[41] between Trenton and New Brunswick, which will allow speeds of 160 mph (257 km/h) over 20 miles (32 km) runs sometime after 2016. This section of track holds the record for the highest speed by a train in the USA, which is 170.8 mph (274.9 km/h). This was achieved in a test run by the U.S.-built UAC TurboTrain on December 20, 1967.[42]

A focus on top speeds may be[weasel words] misplaced since the Acela travel times have been most affected by restrictions in slower sections, below 60–80 mph (97–129 km/h). These stretches are frequently over older bridges, or through tunnels a century old or more, which require reduced speeds.

Branding[edit]

An Acela Regional train at South Station, Boston in 2002

The Acela name was announced on March 9, 1999, as a part of the original announcement of the service itself.[43] This was originally intended[by whom?] as a rebranding of most of Amtrak's Northeast services,[44] forming three levels: Acela Express, Acela Regional, and Acela Commuter.[45] The branding team based the name "Acela" on the ideas of acceleration and excellence.[46][47]

There were then three classes of trains on the Northeast Corridor (and its extension south to Newport News, Virginia)— Philadelphia-New York Clockers, the express Metroliners, and the umbrella term NortheastDirect, applied to other trains on the corridor (in addition to unique names assigned to each departure). Empire Service trains used the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls, and Keystone Service ran along the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Other named trains also used the corridors, branching off or continuing beyond their stations.

The original plan included renaming the Empire, Keystone, and NortheastDirect services to Acela Regional, while the Metroliners would be replaced with the new Acela Express service.[citation needed] However, the Empire and Keystone services retained their names.

The Acela Regional name was first applied to NortheastDirect trains 130–133 on January 31, 2000.[48] Those trains, 130 and 131 running weekdays only and 132 and 133 running every day, were the first electrified trains to run on the full Northeast Corridor.[49][50] As more trains were electrified, they too were rebranded. In 2003, due to confusion between the lower-speed Acela Regional trains and the Acela Express, the Acela branding was removed from the NortheastDirect service (now the Northeast Regional) and the Acela Commuter had its name changed back to the Clocker for a similar reason and ultimately discontinued on October 28, 2005.[51]

Engineering[edit]

Acela Express
Acela Express business class coach.jpg
Business Class interior
Manufacturer Bombardier, Alstom
Constructed 1998-2001
Entered service 2000
Number built 20 trainsets[52]
Number in service 20 trainsets
Formation 8 cars (2 x power car; 6 x passenger car)
Fleet numbers 2000-2039 (power cars)
Capacity 304 (44 first class; 260 business class)
Operator Amtrak
Depot(s) Ivy City, Washington DC
Sunnyside Yard, New York City
Southampton Street Yard, Boston
Line(s) served Northeast Corridor
Specifications
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Train length 665 feet 8.75 inches (202.91 m)
Car length 69 feet 7 inches (21.21 m) (Power car)
87 feet 5 inches (26.64 m) (Passenger Car)
Width 10 feet 5 inches (3.18 m) (Power car)
10 feet 4.5 inches (3.16 m) (Passenger Car)
Doors Single Leaf Sliding Plug Doors
Intermediate Passenger Cars: 4
End Passenger Cars: 2
Wheel diameter 40 inches (1,000 mm) (Power Car)
36 inches (910 mm) (Passenger Car)
Maximum speed 165 mph (266 km/h) (150 mph or 240 km/h max operating speed)
Weight 1,246,000 lb (565 t) (Trainset)
204,000 lb (93 t) (Power Car)
142,000 lb (64 t) (End Cars; Business and First)
139,000 lb (63 t) (Intermediate Business Cars)
137,000 lb (62 t) (Bistro Car)
Axle load 51,000 lb (23 t) (Power Car)
35,500 lb (16.1 t) (End Cars; Business and First)
34,750 lb (15.76 t) (Intermediate Business Cars)
34,250 lb (15.54 t) (Bistro Car)
Traction system Alstom GTO Inverters and 3-Phase Asynchronous AC Traction Motors
Power output 1,150 kW (1,540 hp) (Per Motor)
4,600 kW (6,200 hp) (Per Power Car)
Tractive effort Starting:
225 kN (51,000 lbf) (Per power car)
Power supply 2850 V DC (PWM Rectified) Voltage Regulated from mains re-inverted to three-phase, frequency and voltage controlled AC waveform.
Electric system(s) Catenary
25 kV 60 Hz AC, 12 kV 60 Hz AC, 12 kV 25 Hz AC
Current collection method Pantograph, 2 per power car
UIC classification Bo'Bo'-2'2'-2'2'-2'2'-2'2'-2'2'-2'2'-Bo'Bo'
Braking system(s) Dynamic and Regenerative (Power Cars)
Electro-Pneumatic Disk and Tread(Trainset)
Safety system(s) Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Notes
Specifications:[53]

Train design[edit]

Overhead view of an Acela power car; a Boston MBTA Orange Line train is also visible.

The Acela trainset is a unique train designed specifically to satisfy specific U.S. governmental rolling stock requirements. This includes a requirement to be able to collide with a freight train at speed without collapsing, which necessitates that the passenger cars be built with massive amounts of extra steel and weight.[54] These requirements are significantly different from anywhere else in the world, including other countries that have highly functional high speed rail networks, which use modern signalling and computer controls to emphasize crash prevention.

Most manufacturers who bid on the Acela were unable to meet the structural requirements, bringing up costs and complications for the manufacture of the trains, and requiring manufacturers to make significant engineering changes to its standard designs. In the end, only three qualified bidders remained: ABB (Swedish manufacturer of the X 2000 train), Siemens (manufacturer of the German ICE), and a consortium of Bombardier (manufacturer of the LRC trains) and Alstom (manufacturer of the French TGV).[55] These specifications[which?] are not a result of specific Northeast Corridor track conditions.

Although the design of the trains, with identical 6,200 horsepower (4,600 kW) power cars at each end which operate on a voltage of 11,000 volts AC, and either 25 or 60 Hz frequency, resemble France's TGV, only certain components are directly derived from the TGV. These TGV-derived components are the traction system derived from third-generation TGV trainsets (including the four asynchronous AC motors per power car, rectifiers, inverters, and regenerative braking technology), the structure of the trucks/bogies (with a long wheelbase dual transom H frame welded steel with outboard mounted tapered roller bearings), the brake discs (although there are only three per axle, versus four on the TGV), and the crash energy management techniques to control structural deformations in the event of an accident.[56]

The tilting carriages are based upon Bombardier's earlier LRC trains used on Via Rail rather than the TGV's non-tilting articulated trailers. The Acela power cars and passenger cars are much heavier than those of the TGV in order to meet the United States Federal Railroad Administration's different approach to rail crash standards.[54] The Tier II crash standards, adopted in 1999, have also resulted in the passenger cars being designed without steps and trapdoors, which means that the trainsets can only serve lines with high-level platforms such as the Northeast Corridor. Acela trains are semi-permanently coupled (but not articulated as in the TGV) and are referred to as trainsets. Bombardier later used the Acela Express carriage design and a diesel/gas turbine variant of the power car for its experimental JetTrain.[57]

Operating speeds[edit]

The Acela is certified with a top speed of 165 mph (266 km/h) and reaches a maximum of 150 mph (241 km/h) in regular service. The Acela Express is the only service in North America that exceeds the U.S. Department of Transportation's 125 mph (201 km/h) definition of high speed rail.[4][58]

Acela Express and Metro-North commuter trains share the same tracks through Connecticut.

The Acela achieves an average speed (including stops) of 81.7 mph (131 km/h) between Washington and New York,[2][3] [59] and an average speed of 66.9 mph (108 km/h) from Washington to Boston.[60] The average speed from New York to Boston is a slightly faster 69.8 mph (112 km/h).[61] The average speed for the entire length excluding stops is 84 mph (135 km/h).[5] Its maximum speed limit is 150 mph (241 km/h) on two sections of track totaling 28 mi (45 km) in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.[20]

Amtrak has also been upgrading the track along the Connecticut shoreline east of New Haven to allow maximum speeds in excess of 110 mph (177 km/h).[62] West of New York City, Acela Express's top speed is 135 mph (217 km/h). One limiting factor is the overhead catenary support system which was constructed prior to 1935 and lacks the constant-tension features of the new catenary east of New Haven.[5] The Pennsylvania Railroad, however, did run Metroliner test trains in the late 1960s as fast as 164 mph (264 km/h) and briefly intended to run the Metroliner service at speeds reaching 150 mph (241 km/h). The Acela Express trainsets are capable of 165 mph (266 km/h) operation,[4][dead link] but the FRA regulations generally do not permit any speeds above 150 mph (241 km/h) on tracks that are shared with freight and slower passenger trains. Testing for certification for commercial operation at 160 mph (257 km/h) involving test runs at up to 165 mph (266 km/h) began between Trenton, NJ and New Brunswick, NJ in September 2012.[63]

The slowest section of the electrified NEC is the portion owned by Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation between New Haven, Connecticut and New Rochelle, New York and is heavily used by commuter trains. Amtrak's trains here achieve 90 mph (145 km/h) only on a limited 4-mile (6.4 km) stretch in New York State and rarely exceed 60 mph (97 km/h) at any time eastbound through Connecticut until reaching New Haven.[64] Additionally, tilting is not allowed anywhere on that property. At a maximum 4.2° tilt,[6] the Acela Express trainset would pass other trains on parallel tracks only 10 inches (25 cm) away, which is too close for FRA-mandated clearances. In 1992, ConnDOT began planning to upgrade the catenary system,[65] replace outdated bridges, and straighten certain sections of the New Haven Line to enable the Acela to run slightly faster. As of 2013 the catenary replacement and bridge work are underway and expected to be completed in 2015; however, curve straightening was deemed too expensive, and there are no current plans to increase speeds on the New Haven Line.

On July 9, 2007, Amtrak introduced a limited-stop round trip, with trains stopping only at Philadelphia between New York and Washington. This shortened the trip between the two cities to just 2 hours 35 minutes, making the trip roughly an hour faster than some of the Northeast Regional train services. These trains were an experiment on Amtrak's part to find ways to expedite travel time on the Acela. Amtrak has since dropped these two limited-stop trains.[66]

High speed infrastructure[edit]

The dense population of the northeastern United States makes the Northeast Corridor the most heavily traveled portion of the American passenger rail system. Two-thirds of rail passengers in the United States live in New York City, also home to the nation's busiest passenger rail station, Penn Station.[67]

In order to compete with airliners, Amtrak needed to increase the speed of trains in the region. However, the former Shore Line, from New Haven to Boston, is burdened by sharp turns and grade crossings, the crossings being of special concern.[68][69]

Tilting enables passengers to ride more comfortably on curved sections of track faster than would otherwise be possible, by leaning into the bend. Acela trainsets tilt above 60 mph (97 km/h) on most of the system, but some segments of track in the Northeast Corridor are too close together for the cars to safely tilt while maintaining FRA minimum space between trains on parallel tracks. Furthermore, Metro-North Railroad restricts tilting on the segment of track north of New York which it owns. While the system was originally designed for a 6.8° tilt, the cars were redesigned 4 in (10 cm) wider to accommodate wider seats and aisles that reduced allowable tilt to a more modest 4.2° to fit within the clearance constraints of the existing tracks.[70][71] Traveling at higher than 135 mph (217 km/h) also requires constant-tension catenary, which is only implemented on the more modern catenary system north of New York City. South of New York City the trains are restricted to 135 mph (217 km/h). By comparison, Northeast Regional and the now-defunct Metroliner service reached 125 mph (201 km/h). Acela trainsets can achieve 165 mph (266 km/h)[4][dead link][72] but are restricted to 150 mph (241 km/h) due to track conditions, other traffic, FRA regulations, and other factors.


Acela Express
Dist. Station
0 mi 
0 km 
Boston South Station MBTA.svg
1 mi 
2 km 
Boston Back Bay MBTA.svg
11 mi 
18 km 
Route 128 MBTA.svg
MA
RI
43 mi 
69 km 
Providence MBTA.svg
RI
CT
across
Pawcatuck River
105 mi 
169 km 
New London
Ferry to
Long Island
Shore Line East
156 mi 
251 km 
New Haven MTA NYC logo.svg Shore Line East
195 mi 
314 km 
Stamford MTA NYC logo.svg Shore Line East
CT
NY
across
Byram River
East River Tunnels
under East River
231 mi 
372 km 
New York City MTA NYC logo.svg New Jersey Transit
NY
NJ
across
Hudson River
North River Tunnels
10 mi 
16 km 
Newark New Jersey Transit
255 mi 
410 km 
Metropark New Jersey Transit
289 mi 
465 km 
Trenton New Jersey Transit SEPTA.svg
NJ
PA
across
Delaware River
322 mi 
518 km 
Philadelphia New Jersey Transit SEPTA.svg
PA
DE
116 mi 
187 km 
Wilmington SEPTA.svg
DE
MD
416 mi 
669 km 
Baltimore MARC train.svg
427 mi 
687 km 
BWI Marshall Airport MARC train.svg
MD
DC
457 mi 
735 km 
Washington MARC train.svg Virginia Railway Express

Acela service was originally expected to begin in late 1999 but was delayed. The catenary system was unable to support the speeds originally intended between Washington, D.C., and New York City, but the more modern system between New York City and Boston allows the higher speeds. A brief political controversy drew attention to the decreased 4.2° tilt, but this was not to be the root of the speed problem, as the tracks from New York to Boston are similar to those between New York and Washington, and the tilt mechanism is not the factor that allows the high speeds.[20][70][71] After a series of delays and repairs, the first Acela Express service began on December 11, 2000, a year behind schedule.[73]

With the completion of electrification between New Haven and Boston, all trains on the line have become faster partly because of the removal of a 10 minute delay in New Haven while swapping diesel and electric locomotives, partly from a faster acceleration away from station stops enabled by electric locomotives and partly because of the faster speed achieved on some sections of track. Acela travels between Boston and New York in about three and a half hours (an improvement of half an hour); New York to Washington runs take two hours and forty-five minutes. These schedules, as well as the relative convenience of rail as opposed to air travel especially after September 11, 2001, and direct downtown-to-downtown service have made the Acela Express more competitive with the air shuttles.

Platform track speeds[edit]

Along most of their route, Acela trains do not pass near the platforms of local stations at high speeds. However, there are at least two locations where the Acela trains speed through platform tracks at or near the top operating speeds. At Kingston Station in Rhode Island, the trains zip through the platform tracks at 150 mph (241 km/h).[74] Another location is at Mansfield station in Massachusetts. The station, which serves MBTA commuter rail, has two platform tracks but they are also used by Acela to pass through at the speeds of 120 mph (193 km/h).

This situation prompted concerns of local commuters and politicians about inadequate warnings and safeguards. The two-foot wide yellow platform markings may not be wide enough to keep commuters away from the edge when an Acela train passes though at high speed. There were suggestions that the MBTA and Amtrak install safety barriers at the platforms, or give different announcements between approaching MBTA and Acela trains.[75][76]

For the Kingston station, federal transportation grants were awarded in 2011 for station improvements. A portion of the grants included construction of a third track, which will be used by Acela trains as the through track to bypass the station. This would eventually alleviate the safety concerns of the passengers at Kingston station.[77]

Acela speeding through a platform track of Kingston Station at 150 mph (241 km/h) 
Mansfield station with two platform tracks also used by Acela 
Warning sign at the Kingston Station in Rhode Island, a two-track station within one of the Acela's 150 mph (241 km/h) zones 

Outages[edit]

Acela Express in snow passing Ruggles Station in Boston

In August 2002, shortly after their introduction, Acela Express trainsets were briefly removed from service when the brackets that connected truck (bogie) dampers (shocks) to the powerunit carbodies ("yaw dampers") were found to be cracking.[78][79] The trains were returned to service when a program of frequent inspections was instituted. The damper brackets have since been redesigned and the old brackets replaced with the newer design.

On April 15, 2005, Acela Express trains were again removed from service when cracks were found in the disc brakes of most of the passenger coaches.[80][81] The Bombardier-Alstom consortium replaced the discs under warranty. Limited service resumed in July 2005, as a portion of the fleet operated with new brake discs.[82] Metroliner trains, which the Acela Express was intended to replace, filled in during the outage. Amtrak announced on September 21, 2005, that all 20 trainsets had been returned to full operation.

Service[edit]

Composition[edit]

The production sets are formed as follows:[83]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Designation Power Business Class Business Class Cafe Business Class Business Class
(Quiet Car)
First Class Power
Weight (US ton) 102.0 71.0 69.5 68.5 69.5 69.5 71.0 102.0
Capacity 0 65 65 0 65 65 44 0

The Acela Express trainset consists of two power cars, a café car, a first class car, and four business class cars, semi-permanently coupled together. The train has fewer seats than regional service counterparts. The first class car has 44 seats. First class has three seats across (one on one side, two on the other side) and four seat tables. There are 260 business class seats on each trainset.[4][dead link] The car adjacent to first class is designated as the quiet car, where passengers are asked to refrain from loud talking and mobile phone conversations. Business class cars have four seats across (two on each side) and four-seat tables.

Automatic sliding doors provide access between cars throughout the length of the train and reduce noise. Baggage may be stowed in overhead luggage compartments, or underneath the passenger's seat. Reservations guarantee seating but seats themselves are not assigned. Acela trains are also wheelchair-accessible. Passenger cars and the cafe car have two toilets each, with one being ADA compliant.

Staffing and operation[edit]

Generally Amtrak train crews consist of an engineer, a conductor, and at least one assistant conductor. Acela trains also have an On-Board Service crew consisting of two First Class attendants and a Cafe Car attendant. In addition to the food service provided in the Cafe Car, on most trains an attendant will also provide at seat cart service, serving refreshments throughout the train. First Class passengers are served meals at their seats on all services.

At Amtrak, the On-Board Service crew is considered separate and subordinate to the Train and Engine crews. Acela maintenance is generally taken care of at the Ivy City facility in Washington, DC; Sunnyside Yard in Queens, New York; or Southampton Street Yard in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Acela trainsets underwent minor refurbishments between mid-2009 and 2010 at Penn Coach Yard, next to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These refurbishments included new blue leather seats throughout the trainset, and Cafe Cars remodeled with more seating than the previous configuration allowed.[citation needed]

Wi-Fi service[edit]

Wireless Internet station service began in 2004, originally through AT&T Wireless.[84] In March 2007, Amtrak's vice president for marketing and product management announced that the Northeast Corridor would soon get wireless Internet service.[85] On October 29, 2009, Amtrak announced that it would begin deploying Wi-Fi on the Acela line with access being free, for the time being, then possibly roll Wi-Fi out to other Amtrak trains in its five-year plan.[86] The GBS Group was selected to design the network and Nomad Digital to supply the hardware for the new Wi-Fi service branded as AmtrakConnect.[87] On March 1, 2010, Amtrak deployed AmtrakConnect on all 20 Acela trains.[87] AmtrakConnect (SSID AmtrakConnectAcela) supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and supports the use of standard VPN connections.[87]

Notable incidents[edit]

On September 27, 2005, a southbound train became the first Acela Express to be involved in a collision at a grade crossing when it struck a car at Miner Lane in Waterford, Connecticut,[88] one of the few remaining grade crossings on the Northeast Corridor. The train was approaching the crossing at approximately 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) when the car reportedly rolled under the crossing gate arms at a low speed and was struck by the train and dragged 1,000 feet (300 m). The driver, a 62-year-old woman, and her 8-year-old grandson, were killed instantly; a 4-year-old girl survived and was airlifted to a hospital where she died nine days later. The gates were later inspected and declared to have been functioning properly at the time of the incident.[89] The incident drew much criticism from the public about the 11 remaining grade crossings along Amtrak's busy Northeast Corridor.[90][91]

Station stops[edit]

State Town/City Station Connections
Massachusetts Boston South Station Amtrak: Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional
MBTA Commuter Rail: Fairmount Line, Framingham/Worcester Line, Franklin Line, Needham Line, Old Colony Lines, Providence/Stoughton Line
MBTA Bus Lines: 4, 6, 7, 11, 448, 449, 459
MBTA Subway Lines: Red Line, Silver Line (Waterfront)
Intercity Buses: Greyhound Bus Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Concord Coach Lines, Dartmouth Coach.
Back Bay Amtrak: Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional
MBTA Commuter Rail: Framingham/Worcester Line, Franklin Line, Needham Line, Providence/Stoughton Line
MBTA Bus Lines: 10, 39, 170
MBTA Subway Lines: Orange Line
Westwood Route 128 Amtrak: Northeast Regional
MBTA Commuter Rail: Providence/Stoughton Line
Rhode Island Providence Providence Amtrak: Northeast Regional
MBTA Commuter Rail: Providence/Stoughton Line
RIPTA Buses: 50, 55, 56, 57
Connecticut New London New London Amtrak: Northeast Regional
ConnDOT: Shore Line East
New Haven New Haven-Union Station Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Shuttle, Vermonter
Metro-North Railroad: New Haven Line
ConnDOT: Shore Line East
CT Transit New Haven: J, Commuter Connection Downtown and Sargent Drive, Temple Street Garage Shuttle
Intercity Buses: Greyhound Bus Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines
Stamford Stamford Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Metro-North Railroad: New Haven Line
ConnDOT: Shore Line East
CT Transit Stamford: 11, 13, 14, 21, 22, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, Commuter Connection Central, Commuter Connection-North, Commuter Connection Route 1 – East, Commuter Connection Bulls Head, I-Bus
New York New York City Penn Station Amtrak: Adirondack, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
LIRR: Main Line, Port Washington Branch
NJ Transit: North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor Line, Gladstone Branch, Montclair-Boonton Line, Morristown Line
NYC Subway: 1 2 3 A C E trains
NYC Transit buses: M4, M7, M20, M34 / M34A Select Bus Service, Q32
New Jersey Newark Newark Penn Station Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
NJ Transit: Newark City Subway, Newark Light Rail, North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor Line, Raritan Valley Line, 1, 5, 11, 21, 25, 28, 29, 34, 39, 40, 62, 67, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78, 79, 108, 308, 319, 361, 375, 378
PATH: NWK-WTC
Iselin Metropark Amtrak: Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
NJ Transit: Northeast Corridor Line, 48, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805
Trenton Trenton Rail Station Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
NJ Transit: Northeast Corridor Line, River Line, 409, 418, 600, 601, 604, 606, 608, 609, 611, 619
SEPTA Regional Rail: Trenton Line
SEPTA Suburban Transit Division: 127
Pennsylvania Philadelphia 30th Street Station Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Keystone Service, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
NJ Transit: Atlantic City Line
SEPTA City Transit Division: Market-Frankford Line, Route 10, Route 11, Route 13, Route 34, Route 36, 9, 30, 31, 44, 62, 78, 316
SEPTA Suburban Transit Division: 124, 125
SEPTA Regional Rail: Airport Line, Warminster Line, Wilmington/Newark Line, West Trenton Line, Media/Elwyn Line, Lansdale/Doylestown Line, Paoli/Thorndale Line, Manayunk/Norristown Line, Cynwyd Line, Trenton Line, Chestnut Hill East Line, Chestnut Hill West Line, Fox Chase Line
Delaware Wilmington Wilmington Station Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
DART First State: 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 28, 32, 301
SEPTA Regional Rail: Wilmington/Newark Line
Maryland Baltimore Baltimore Penn Station Amtrak: Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
MARC Train: Penn Line
MTA Maryland: Light Rail, 3, 11, 64
BWI Rail Station Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter
MARC Train: Penn Line
MTA Maryland: 17, 201
Howard Transit: Silver Route
District of Columbia Washington Washington Union Station Amtrak: Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter, Thruway Motorcoach to Charlottesville, Virginia
MARC Train: Brunswick Line, Camden Line, Penn Line
VRE: Manassas Line, Fredericksburg Line
Metro: Red Line
Metrobus: D3, D6, D8, X1, X2, X8, X9, 80, 96, 97
DC Circulator: Georgetown, Navy Yard
MTA Maryland: 903, 922
Loudoun County Transit: Loudoun County
PRTC: Dale City

Appearances on train simulators[edit]

The Acela Express is included in the PC simulation game Microsoft Train Simulator. It is also a purchasable add-on for Train Simulator 2013, originally Railworks. In Trainz Simulator 12, the Acela is built into the game.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amtrak Sets New Ridership Record, Thanks Passengers For Taking The Train". Amtrak. October 11, 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2014. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: BOSTON / SPRINGFIELD and WASHINGTON, DC (Form W4)". Amtrak. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "NORTHEAST CORRIDOR NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, DC (Form W2)". Amtrak. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
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  5. ^ a b c "Amtrak Vision for the North East Corridor 2012 Update Report". Amtrak. July 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
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  7. ^ "America's Not-So-Fast Trains". New York Times. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Nussbaum, Paul (8 December 2013). "Northeast Corridor high-speed-rail plan slows to 160 m.p.h.". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Northeast Corridor, Amtrak (September 9, 2013)
  10. ^ "A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor". 
  11. ^ Nixon, Ron (August 15, 2012). "Frustrations of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Goldberg, Bruce. "Metroliner's Amazing Rave." Trains June 2006 (53)
  13. ^ "Acela run expected to match U.S. rail speed record of 165 mph (266 km/h)". 
  14. ^ Nixon, Ron (August 15, 2012). "Air Travel's Hassles drive riders to AMTRAKs Acela". The New York Times.  for Acela express passenger numbers only[dead link]
  15. ^ "The Information: Most popular airline routes". Financial Times. January 17, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
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  27. ^ "Amtrak postpones debut of high-speed rail line". Business Courier Serving Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky. March 3, 2000. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  28. ^ Amtrak's Acela: More cannonball than bullet - Philly.com
  29. ^ R. Clifford Black (March 2005). The Acela Express (40). Japan Railway & Transport Review. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  30. ^ MacHalaba, Daniel (March 28, 1999). "Metroliner name on past track". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  31. ^ "Amtrak to run last Metroliner". Trains.com. 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  32. ^ "Amtrak to increase service for Boston, New York and D.C.". Boston Business Journal. September 8, 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  33. ^ "Acela Trains may expand to meet demand". The Boston Globe. Bloomberg News. March 3, 2000. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  34. ^ Christopher Conkey (August 27, 2008). "All Aboard: Too many for Amtrak – Surge in ridership leads to crowding on Intercity trains". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  35. ^ "Amtrak To Add 40 Coach Cars To Acela Express Under FY 2012 Budget Plan". Amtrak. February 14, 2011. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  36. ^ Amtrak to replace high-speed Acela trains
  37. ^ http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/678/822/Amtrak-California-RFP-HSR-Trainsets-ATK-14-011.pdf
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  41. ^ Amtrak train looks to break U.S. speed record in Northeast Corridor test, By Mike Frassinelli/The Star-Ledger, September 25, 2012 at 7:00 AM, updated September 25, 2012 at 12:24 PM
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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