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Amtrak’s New High-Speed Trains Will Use 40 Percent Less Energy per Passenger

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The new Amtrak Acela fleet is currently being tested along the Northeast Corridor.

Courtesy of Amtrak

The new Amtrak Acela fleet is currently being tested along the Northeast Corridor.

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—gained momentum last year, as more people opted 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. The new Acela Express Fleet—which is currently being tested and set to enter service in 2021—is being produced to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent per passenger, Amtrak said in a statement. The new efficiencies are all thanks to a new lightweight design, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In June 2019, 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 trains will feature recycled leather seats as well as a new sustainable food and beverage program. While details are scarce on how the food and drinks will be more ecofriendly, Amtrak says there will be more craft beer offerings.

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In addition to these ecoconscious 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.

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, and again on October 28, 2020, to include current information.

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