Amtrak is looking to acquire new high-speed trainsets that will supplement and eventually replace its Acela Express in use on the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
The federally supported passenger railroad has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking 28 “next-generation high-speed trainsets” that meet or exceed current Acela trip-times on the existing NEC. In addition, Amtrak says the new equipment aims to have 40 percent more seats per train than the current sets in use.
“The Northeast Corridor needs more high-speed rail capacity to help move the American economy forward,” Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said in a statement. “More and more people are choosing Amtrak for travel between Washington, New York and Boston. New equipment means more seats and more frequent departures to help meet that growing demand.”
Amtrak contends its Acela service is as popular as ever and experienced a 7 percent ridership increase over last year. In addition, trains are often sold out during peak periods.
Across the board, Amtrak set a new ridership record in Fiscal Year 2013, carrying 31.6 million passengers. This record breaks the high mark set during Fiscal Year 2012, when the railroad carried 31.2 million passengers, and was the 10th ridership record the railroad has set in the last 11 years.
Outside of the NEC, Amtrak last month received the first of its new, modern long-distance train equipment. The railroad is testing a newly designed baggage car that is to be used on all 15 long-distance routes across Amtrak’s system.
The baggage car is part of a larger order of 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars. The new cars are rated to travel at speeds up to 125 mph and replace legacy equipment currently in use, some of which dates to the 1940s and 1950s.