Amtrak’s Acela Trains Are About to Get a Big Upgrade

Amtrak’s Acela Trains Are About to Get a Big Upgrade

New Amtrak Avelia train at a media preview in New York.

Mmmmm, so bullety.Photo: ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

As a lifelong West coaster, if there’s one thing I’ve always been a little envious of on the East coast, it’s the high-ish speed Acela trains. They’re rad and hit speeds of up to 150 mph over short stretches between Boston and Washington, D.C. They even look cool.

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Unfortunately, they’re also getting old, with the bulk of Acela trains in service cresting the two-decade mark. Now though, the next generation is being built in a factory in New York, and not only will they be faster, but they’ll also be a lot nicer to be in, with modern conveniences like USB charging for your devices and touchless doors.

Other improvements to the trains themselves include the ability to lean in corners like a motorcycle to help maintain higher speeds on curvier sections of track. Adjoining coaches will also share a wheel assembly, which should make for a less bouncy and more stable, comfortable ride overall.

The new Avelia trains are being built by a French company called Alstom, and unsurprisingly they’re being modeled after the super fast TGV trains that run, for example, in the Channel Tunnel between the U.K. and France. Unfortunately, unlike the rail systems in Europe, the U.S. system is a mess, and that’s largely due to the age of the tracks – some of which, according to a report published on Thursday by the Washington Post, are upwards of 180 years old.

The new trains’ 160-mph top speed (though they’re built to go up to 186 mph) will only be reached for 34 miles in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and then for another 16 miles in New Jersey. Still, the tracks are getting a number of upgrades along the route that will help to improve the overall average speed of the trains, shaving time off of people’s trips.

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These new Avelias are expected to enter limited service in the fall of 2023, so get stoked.