Amtrak: Increasing Speed of Acela Trains in New Jersey Will Improve Reliability for Northeast Corridor Customers

An Acela train passes through New Brunswick, New Jersey, in April 2018. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Amtrak said recent infrastructure improvements along a 16-mile segment of track between New Brunswick and South Brunswick allow trains to travel at speeds up to 150 mph.

This project is part of the New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement program and a $450 million investment by the U.S. DOT, and the first of many speed upgrades anticipated in the NEC that lays the framework for future trip time reduction and improves the reliability of intercity and commuter services on one of the most heavily used sections of the NEC.

“The upgrades coming from the New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement Program exemplify our continual commitment to upgrade the Northeast Corridor and transform the customer experience as we welcome more passengers back on board,” Amtrak President and CEO Stephen Gardner said in an announcement.

The completed scope included installing new signal power cables, new catenary (overhead wire) supports and wire renewal, high-speed turnouts, and renewed power substations. An additional eight miles of catenary between South Brunswick and Trenton, NJ are also currently being upgraded, with completion and speed increases expected in 2024.

These speeds are the fastest of any train in North America and match the top speeds in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The upgrades will also allow the new Acela trains to achieve speeds of 160 MPH when introduced in Fall 2023, further solidifying the NEC as a high-speed rail corridor and allowing Amtrak to further reduce trip time in the years ahead.

Amtrak has also restored more Acela service to its schedule, with 10 daily round-trip trains between New York and Washington and nine round-trip trains operating between Boston and New York, providing improved schedule utility and more frequency for customers.

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