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Amtrak’s New High-Speed Trains Aim to Be “at Least” 20 Percent More Efficient

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A sneak peek of Amtrak’s new high-speed trains at Alstom’s facility in Hornell, New York.

Courtesy of Amtrak

A sneak peek of Amtrak’s new high-speed trains at Alstom’s facility in Hornell, New York.

When the new Acela Express Fleet launches in 2021, trains will be an even more sustainable option between Boston and Washington, D.C.

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In northern Europe, the concept of flygskam—“flight shame” in Swedish—is gaining momentum this year, as more people opt for trains over planes in the name of sustainability. But in the United States, many American travelers who would like to reduce their carbon footprint by ditching air travel have fewer options and an aging Amtrak system.

That’s about to change very soon—at least for people who live along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. In June, Amtrak released images of the progress being made on its next-generation high-speed Acela trains from the Alstom factory in Hornell, New York, and now it is sharing sneak peeks of the new interiors as well. The new Acela Express Fleet—which will launch in 2021—is being produced to reduce energy consumption by “at least” 20 percent, Amtrak said in a statement. The new efficiencies are all thanks to a new lightweight design, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amtrak’s new high-speed trains will start running between Boston and Washington, D.C., in 2021.
The trains will feature recycled leather seats as well as a new food and beverage program announced as more sustainable. While details are scarce on how the food and drinks will be more environment-friendly, Amtrak says there will be more craft beer offerings.

The new business-class seats will come with personal outlets and USB ports.
In addition to these eco-conscious initiatives, the new Acela fleet will also include a few other upgrades to make train travel more appealing. Getting work done will be easier with faster Wi-Fi systems, along with USB ports and reading lights at each seat. There will also be more legroom, as well as larger bathrooms and storage compartments for luggage.

The Café Car will include a nest area, with standing room and hip rests.
The new trains—which will operate at speeds of up to 160 mph, compared to 150 mph for the current fleet—will also have room for 386 passengers, an increase of 27 percent over its present 304-passenger capacity, which means that more people will be able to take advantage of train travel once these come online in two years.

The Northeast Corridor is Amtrak’s only high-speed route in the United States, but a few other private rail companies have plans to bring fast trains to places such as Texas, Florida, and between Las Vegas and Southern California.      

This article originally appeared online in June 2019; it was updated on September 11, 2019, to include current information.

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