Next-Gen Acela Enroute to TTCI

Written by David Briginshaw, Consulting Editor, International Railway Journal
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The prototype Alstom Avelia Liberty high-speed trainset for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Acela Express service leaves Alstom’s Hornell, N.Y. plant for testing at TTCI, Pueblo, Colo.

The first of 28 new Acela Express high-speed trainsets that Alstom is building for Amtrak in Hornell, N.Y., departed for the Federal Railroad Administration facility in Pueblo, Colo., for high-speed testing on Feb. 17.

High-speed testing on Transportation Technology Center Inc.’s RTT (Railroad Test Track) will last for nine months. Testing will cover operation of the pantograph, railway dynamics, tilting, traction, wheel slip and slide control, wayside protection, brakes, and train control management systems. Once complete, the train will return to Hornell for installation of interiors.

Alstom’s Avelia Liberty trainsets have two compact power cars and nine articulated intermediate trailer coaches. They will be introduced on the 453-mile Boston – New York – Washington D.C. Northeast Corridor (NEC) in 2021 where they will operate at a maximum speed of 160 mph.

Amtrak is upgrading track and infrastructure along the NEC in order to improve ride quality and increase reliability and on-time performance in preparation for the introduction of the new trainsets.

“Alstom is immensely pleased to partner with Amtrak to deliver Acela high-speed trainsets for service on the Northeast Corridor,” said Jérôme Wallut, Senior Vice President for Alstom in North America. “We would like to thank and congratulate all of our employees, suppliers and partners who helped make this important milestone a reality. This milestone is another step closer in the realization of high-speed train manufacturing here in America.”

Amtrak carried more than 3.5 million passengers on its 20 existing Acela Express trains on the NEC in the 2019 financial year, a 4.3% increase over 2018. Amtrak said the had its best month ever in December 2019, with a 16% ridership increase over the previous year.

Alstom has just entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire Bombardier Transportation’s railway business. The two companies jointly manufactured Amtrak’s existing Acela Express trainsets in the late 1990s.

Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono contributed to this story.

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