Amtrak To Refresh Acela Current Express Interiors

Amtrak Acela Refresh.jpg

Prior to the introduction of next-generation Acela Express trains in 2021, Amtrak is investing in an extensive refresh of its train interiors on the entire existing Acela Express fleet. This update will provide a more modern and comfortable travel experience for customers. 

The refresh is a 14-month program for all 20 trainsets, which includes 100 Amtrak cars and 6,080 total seats. Each trainset will be refreshed individually with new cushions and covers for all First and Business Class seats, new carpet for the aisle runner and a deep clean.

The refresh will occur in advance of the debut of the next generation of the Acela Express trainsets. The first trainset prototype will be ready for testing in 2019 and will enter revenue service in early 2021. All trainsets in the current fleet will be retired in early 2022.

Interesting fact: Materials from the existing Acela cushions and covers will be reused, recycled and turned into carpet padding, while the leather will be upcycled and converted into handbags, wallets and other consumer goods.

Next Generation Acela Express: Coming in 2021

  • Each trainset will have roughly one-third more passenger seats while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort Acela customers expect and feature an improved boarding experience and more comfortable seating.

  • Amtrak is ordering 28 trainsets, 40 percent more trainsets than its current high- speed fleet, to provide half-hourly Acela Express service between Washington, DC and New York City during peak hours, and hourly service between New York City and Boston.

  • The trainset design, together with advanced track maintenance practices that Amtrak will be funding, will result in a smoother ride comparable to international high-speed train service.

  • Each trainset will have modern amenities that will be upgradable as customer preferences evolve:

    • Improved Wi-Fi access

    • Personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat

    • Enhanced food service car offering easy access and greater selection

    • Modern interior design for increased comfort and productivity throughout the journey

    • Exceed the ADA minimum accessibility requirements

Amtrak is contracting with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Amtrak’s premium Acela Express service. The contract is part of $2.45 billion that will be invested on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor (NEC) as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand the Acela Express service.

The new trainsets will have one-third more passenger seats while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort of current Acela Express service. Each trainset will have modern amenities that can be upgraded as customer preferences evolve such as improved Wi-Fi access, personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat, enhanced food service and a smoother, more reliable ride.

This procurement comes as demand for Acela Express service is as popular as ever, with many trains selling out during peak travel periods. The new trainsets will allow for increased service including half-hourly Acela Express service between Washington D.C. and New York City during peak hours, and hourly service between New York City and Boston.

The new trainsets will operate along the Washington – New York – Boston Northeast Corridor initially at speeds up to 160 mph and will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph and thus will be able to take advantage of future NEC infrastructure improvements.

Additionally, the trainsets use the base design of one of the safest high-speed trainsets. Concentrated power cars, located at each end of the trainset, provide an extra buffer of protection. The trainsets will also meet the latest Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) guidelines including a Crash Energy Management system.

Amtrak is funding the trainsets and infrastructure improvements through the FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program that will be repaid through growth in NEC revenues.

The first prototype of the new trainsets will be ready in 2019, with the first trainset entering revenue service in 2021. All of the trainsets are expected to be in service, and the current fleet retired, by the end of 2022.