Amtrak announced Wednesday a plan to invest $7.3 billion in new equipment and infrastructure over the next decade, including a fleet of 83 modern trains. The updated machinery, which will include the company’s first hybrid-electric powered cars, is part of Amtrak’s goal to create a more sustainable and comfortable travel experience for passengers.
The new trains will operate mostly along the Northeast Corridor, state-supported routes, and the Palmetto line from New York to Miami. Some of the current equipment used on these routes has been in operation since 1971, so the commissioned train sets are long overdue.
“Amtrak’s procurement of new rolling stock is historic. These state-of-the-art train sets will allow Amtrak to operate and provide services more safely, efficiently, and reliably,” said Federal Railroad Administration deputy administrator Amit Bose. “More importantly, doing so will give riders the modern passenger rail accommodations, amenities, and comforts they want and deserve.”
Aside from cutting back on air pollution, the latest trains will feature “more comfortable seating, individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard Wi-Fi, enhanced lighting and panoramic windows,” plus digital seat reservations, touchless restroom controls, and self-service dining options. They will also be more accessible for all travelers, with lifts for customers with reduced mobility, accessible restrooms and food service cars, and a special type of sound system for people with hearing aids. With all these updates and the promise of fewer delays, Amtrak expects to add over 1.5 million riders annually.
Amtrak officials hope to have the first trains operating in 2024 and the entire new fleet operating in 2031, although Congress has yet to approve the entire budget. But seeing as President Biden is one of the company’s biggest fans, commuters are probably safe to get their hopes up.