Amtrak Wants to Lure Millennials Back to Train Travel With Faster Speeds (on Wi-Fi and the Tracks)
Amtrak has revealed a sneak peek of its new Acela Next-Gen trains, expected to hit the tracks from Boston to D.C. in 2021.
The new trains are expected to shave 20 minutes off the journey time from New York City to Washington, D.C and include a host of millennial-friendly features, like faster Wi-Fi and power outlets. The trains should be ready for testing later this year.
“We've got to position Amtrak to have a modern product that a millennial wants to get on with high speed Wi-Fi, craft beers and reliable schedules that beat buses, cars and airplanes,” Richard Anderson, president and CEO of Amtrak, told CBS News.
The new trains will carry up to 380 people, an increase of about 25 percent from the older cars. There are also new safety measures put in place on the new trains, meant to prevent the type of crash that killed eight people near Philadelphia in 2015.
New seats will feature personal power outlets and USB ports at the center of each row, meaning those in the aisle won’t have to reach over their seatmate to plug into the wall. Screens will come down from the ceiling and show the train’s progress, a la inflight maps on airplanes.
The new train cars will be lighter than what’s currently on the tracks, lessening the environmental impact of a train journey.
The Acela is currently the fastest train in the U.S., capable of reaching speeds up to 150 miles per hour. (It should be noted that the bullet trains in Japan and Europe are capable of going in excess of 200 miles per hour.) The new Acela trains are expected to go 10-15 miles per hour faster.
The new cars are currently in production at the Alstom facility in Hornell, New York. They will begin testing later this year.
“Eventually, once the new fleet comes on board, we will be retiring all current Acela trains, and only using the new trains,” Amtrak spokesperson Jason Abrams told The Boston Globe.
The current Acela fleet is due to be completely phased out of service by 2022.