Amtrak’s first new Acela train leaves the factory


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Image: Alstom

The future of high-speed rail on Amtrak’s northeast corridor appears to be back on track. The original generation of Acela trains had to be replaced last spring after 20 years of use. After its introduction to the revenue service was delayed for a year, the first Avelia Liberty convoy departed from Alstom’s facility in Hornell, New York, for delivery to Amtrak earlier this week.

Spring 2022 is when Amtrak customers in the northeastern United States can expect to ride these new high-speed trains on Amtrak’s important Acela service. The French train manufacturer produced two test trains at its western New York facility in February 2020 according to the tribune of the evening.

However, the test trains had technical problems caused by the tracks operated by Acela. Larry Biess, Amtrak’s project director, described the specific causes for the Washington Post. Biess explained that the Northeast Corridor was actually built in the 19th century. This age has created difficulties that are not seen much on the much more modern and straight slopes of Europe.

Avelia Liberty trains would lose contact with overhead electrified catenary wires limiting train speed, as explained by Larry Biess. The changes were necessary to make the trains compatible with the tracks of the Northeast Corridor. The reconfiguration with accompanying testing and development along with other delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to the missed original debut in the spring of 2021.

The wait will be worth it. The new trains are expected to operate up to a maximum speed of 160mph, 10mph faster than the current generation of rolling stock. The increase might seem small, but the train’s design isn’t the limiting factor. Alstom says Avelia Liberty convoys could travel at speeds in excess of 185 miles per hour. The only thing left that holds Alstom’s Avelia Liberty trains are the ancient tracks.


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