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Amtrak awards high-speed train contract for Northeast Corridor

30 August 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Amtrak has awarded a design and build contract for 28 new high-speed trains to Alstom for operation between Boston and Washington D.C.

Amtrak awards high-speed train contract for Northeast Corridor

U.S. national operator Amtrak has signed contracts with rolling stock manufacturer Alstom for the supply of 28 high-speed Avelia Liberty trains which will run on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) from 2021-2022.

Both parties also signed a long-term contract under which Alstom will provide Amtrak with long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new trainsets. Together, these contracts are worth €1.8 billion ($2 billion).

Amtrak and Alstom sign high-speed train and maintenance contracts worth €1.8 billion

The NEC line, from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington D.C. via New York and Philadelphia, covers approximately 730 km (457 miles). With passenger numbers increasing from 2.4 million passengers in 2002 to 3.5 million in 2014, Amtrak decided to replace the existing Acela trains to increase passenger capacity. In addition, it is hoped the new trains will cut journey times and improve operating costs and energy efficiency.

The Liberty is the latest development in Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia. The new trainset will be able to carry up to 33 percent more passengers than the current Acela trains. The trainset configuration includes an innovative compact power car and nine passenger cars, with the possibility of three more being added if demand grows. The train is capable of travelling at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph), but will initially operate at a maximum speed of 257 km/h (160 mph) based on NEC track speed limits. Additionally, each concentrated power car is equipped with Alstom’s pioneering Crash Energy Management (CEM) system.

The Avelia Liberty trains will feature:

  • Modern interior design
  • Improved Wi-Fi access and quality
  • Personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat
  • Enhanced food service options
  • Exceed the ADA minimum accessibility requirements

According to Alstom the train provides greater stability and passenger comfort while enhancing safety. The train also includes Alstom’s Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology, which allows the train to manoeuvre curves safely and more comfortably at high speeds.

Amtrak awards high-speed train contract for Northeast Corridor

Commenting on the agreement, Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman said: “Amtrak is taking the necessary actions to keep our customers, the Northeast region and the American economy moving forward.

“These trainsets and the modernisation and improvement of infrastructure will provide our customers with the mobility and experience of the future.”

Jérôme Wallut, Senior Vice President, Alstom North-America said “Alstom’s high speed trains, which we have branded Avelia, are the most advanced reliable and safest trains in the world. Avelia Liberty will not only provide premium passenger experience but will also provide greater energy efficiency and lower lifecycle costs. This award is an illustration of the success of Alstom’s strategy of customer proximity. We would like to thank Amtrak for its vote of confidence and remain fully dedicated to making this project a success.”

The majority of Amtrak’s Avelia Liberty trains will be manufactured at Alstom’s site in Hornell, New York state in the United States. They will be maintained in the depots of Amtrak in Boston, New York and Washington DC under a specific Technical Support and Spare Supply Agreement with additional support from Alstom’s sites in New York, Delaware and Illinois for a period of 15 years, with an option for an additional 15 years.

2 responses to “Amtrak awards high-speed train contract for Northeast Corridor”

  1. Clark Morris says:

    Having read the specifications and the price, it looks like Amtrak has once again chosen the high first cost, high operating cost, low value solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if a train consisting of 2 Siemens locomotives and 8 Amfleet cars could make the proposed schedules. A train of high acceleration 100 mph EMUs such as Jersey Arrows modified to handle autoswitching between 12 KV 25 cycle and 25 KV 60 cycle probably could come close.

    • Sam says:

      But a good part of getting custom these days is selling something as a novel experience. ‘Come take a ride on our nice shiny new amfleet cars from the 1970s’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Though I agree with the sentiment that frequently rail operators go with the flashy option at the expense of ticket prices…

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