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[video=youtube;WH-3FsmU6KQ] At Amtrak we know the future of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) depends on the investments we make today, which is why we are excited to announce the upcoming arrival of the next-generation of high-speed rail. The new trainsets will replace the current Acela Express equipment and begin service in 2021. As part of this multi-faceted modernization program, Amtrak is also investing in the infrastructure needed to improve your customer experience onboard the train and in major NEC stations including Washington Union Station and Moynihan Station New York. 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. This next-generation of Acela Express will give you a more comfortable and productive travel experience throughout your entire journey. Just a few of the new amenities include: Approximately one-third more passenger seating, while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort found onboard today Modern interior design Improved Wi-Fi access and quality Personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat Enhanced food service options Exceed the ADA minimum accessibility requirements By adding 40-percent more trainsets than the current Acela Express fleet, we are providing you with more travel options. Upon delivery of the new trainsets, Acela Express service will be offered every half-hour between Washington, D.C. and New York City during peak times, and every hour between New York City and Boston throughout the day. This expanded fleet will give you more departure options during peak travel times. The new trainsets are among the safest, most reliable and energy efficient in the world. They have a 35-year track record of transporting billions of customers to their destinations safely. In reliability, we anticipate the new trainsets will be at least eight times more reliable than the equipment it replaces, ensuring that we will get you where you need to go on time, every time. Finally, the new trainsets will reduce operating energy consumption by at least 20 percent, through a combination of minimal aerodynamic drag and lightweight design. This is the most significant investment Amtrak has made in its infrastructure and technology in the 45 years of providing passenger rail service to the American public and it was important to us that these trainsets be “Made in America” as much as possible. For this project, we are pleased to be partnering with Alstom, a leading global provider of innovative systems and equipment in the railway sector. Alstom will be building these new trainsets in New York State, with 95 percent of the trainset’s components being made in America, and parts coming from more than 350 suppliers in over 30 U.S. states. We look forward to having you join us on this journey as we work to revolutionize high-speed passenger rail in the country, support the American economy and continue to provide you with a reliable, smooth and efficient ride as you travel throughout the Northeast. Continue to check back here for more details on the progress of next-generation high-speed rail on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak’s Next-Generation of High-Speed Trains - blog.amtrak.com
The most expensive tunnel in the world Jul 29th 2012, 17:28 by N.B. | WASHINGTON, D.C. EARLIER this month, Amtrak, America's government-owned passenger rail corporation, released a plan outlining how it's going to spend $151 billion it doesn't currently have (and has no prospect of receiving anytime soon) to bring true high-speed trains to America's crucial Boston-New York-Washington rail axis. Gulliver has already explained why Amtrak's project is ambitious, expensive, and unlikely. But the more you delve into the details of the plans, the sillier they appear. Take, for example, Amtrak's proposal to bore a 10-mile rail tunnel underneath Philadelphia. As Steve Stofka, a transport blogger, explains, this proposal would require the most expensive type of tunnel imaginable—"It is freaking expensive to bore a ten-mile-long tunnel through an alluvial floodplain under a highly urbanised area—and to maintain it, since it will reside below the water table," Mr Stofka writes. At $10 billion, he notes that the project would be about three times as expensive per mile as the Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Swiss Alps. And all this is for marginal improvements in speed and access. The tracks around and through Philadelphia aren't, generally, big obstacles to high-speed rail—the tunnels in and around Baltimore, Maryland are. It would be much cheaper to replace Baltimore's terrible tunnels than to build a fancy new one under Philadelphia. The Philadelphia tunnel, unfortunately, isn't even the worst part of Amtrak's plan. That honour goes to a $7 billion renovation of Washington's Union Station (pictured), which Slate's Matthew Yglesias rightly calls "insane". Amtrak's cost estimate is many times higher than for similar projects in Europe. And as Mr Yglesias notes, it seems that Amtrak doesn't have its priorities straight: [F]rom the look of Amtrak's proposal in addition to the high unit costs problem, there seems to be an awful lot of emphasis on doing stuff that has no really clear operational benefits. For example, they don't like the fact that right now Union Station's existing platforms have unsightly and inconvenient columns in the middle of them. To get rid of the columns, they need to scrap the 2,000-space parking deck that they're supporting. Then they want to replace the parking deck with a 5,000-space four-level underground garage. That's an awful lot of money to spend on something that has minimal operational value from the standpoint of actually operating a railroad. There's no doubt that America's big east-coast cities could benefit from access to true high-speed rail. But before it gets the funding necessary to make that happen, Amtrak should put forth a credible, smart proposal that puts the needs of passengers and the public first. I have taken Amtrak trains out of Union Station several hundred times. I've never given more than a moment's thought to the "unsightly and inconvenient" columns on the platforms, but I have noticed how trains crawl through the tunnels in Baltimore and move much more slowly, overall, than similar trains in Europe. Renovating Union Station and replacing its parking garage isn't likely to make Amtrak's trains go any faster. Amtrak needs to get a handle on which kind of projects are worth billions of taxpayer dollars—and which aren't. http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/07/rail-renovations