By 2021, Amtrak will have spent a total of $2.45 billion to bring a high-speed rail service to the Northeastern Corridor.
In August 2016, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced that Amtrak would receive a $2.45 billion loan from the Department of Transportation. The rail operator is now in the process of using those funds to purchase 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets, rehabilitate tracks in the Northeast Corridor, and upgrade four stations, including Union Station in Washington D.C. and Baltimore’s Penn Station.
“This loan is a key step to providing investments needed to help keep high-speed trains moving throughout the region, and to help all commuters in the Northeast Corridor,” Biden said. “We need these kinds of investments to keep this region — and our whole country — moving, and to create new jobs.”
Amtrak has since revealed that they chose Alstom’s Avelia Liberty model to replace the aging Acela fleet that services the Northeast Corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston. The new trains — which will be manufactured at Alstom’s facilities in Hornell and Rochester, NY — will travel at speeds of up to 160 mph, with the ability to ramp up to 186 mph after the planned line upgrades are complete.
“One of the constraints Amtrak has is that the infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor today was not built or intended for high-speed rail,” Alstom Vice President Scott Sherin said. “Amtrak wanted to know how they could implement a faster service on infrastructure that was not intended for high-speed rail. The Avelia Liberty has some unique characteristics that will allow them to do that.”
High-Speed Rail Moves People Forward
Despite possessing the world’s largest rail network, the United States lags behind other countries in terms of annual ridership. According to The Economist, “Per capita, the Japanese, the Swiss, the French, the Danes, the Russians, the Austrians, the Ukrainians, the Belarusians and the Belgians all accounted for more than 1,000 passenger-kilometres by rail in 2011; Americans accounted for 80.” This lower ridership is due in part to delays and a lack of access to high-speed rail service, which should be considered an opportunity for American passenger rail companies to seize.
Apart from sheer speed, Amtrak hopes that some of the other technological upgrades planned for the high-speed rail line will attract new passengers. The Avelia Liberty model set to enter service in 2021, for instance, comes equipped with Alstom’s anticipative tilting technology, Tektronix. “This technology allows the train, when it goes into a curve, to tilt much like you see a motorcycle tilt when it goes through a curve,” Sherin said. “We have geopositioning on the train. It knows when it enters into a curve, and it will trigger preemptively this tilting motion so the passengers don’t feel the lateral acceleration.”
With these upgrades, Amtrak hopes to make rail a more attractive option for long-distance travel along the Northeast Corridor. “Amtrak is taking the necessary actions to keep our customers, the Northeast region, and the American economy moving forward,” said Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman in a press release. “These trainsets and the modernization and improvement of infrastructure will provide our customers with the mobility and experience of the future.”
Rail Maintenance Prevents Costly Delays and Keeps Travelers Safe
At Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., we understand the value of a well-maintained rail system for hauling both passengers and freight around the country. That’s why we offer a suite of anti-icing, deicing and rail switch lubrication products that make train travel safer and more efficient.
We all know the Northeast Corridor can get quite cold in the winter, with thick layers of ice gathering on the rails to cause costly delays and safety hazards. That’s why we partnered with NASA and the Ames Research Group to develop Zero Gravity Third Rail®, our industry-leading anti-icing solution. You can apply this product in -70º F conditions to avoid the negative effects of rain, sleet, snow, wind, and even gravity.
Midwest prides itself on providing your railways with the solutions to create the safest travel conditions possible. Better yet, our products are environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, and non-corrosive. So before the next winter storm hits, make sure you can get your passengers to their destination on time with the help of the experts at Midwest.
Buy Midwest anti-icing and deicing products on our online store.