Acela Express

From Academic Kids

Acela redirects here, as Acela Express is the most modern and common way to say 'Acela.' For the former Acela Regional service, see Regional (Amtrak).
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Acelalogo.jpg
Acela logo

Acela Express (or just Acela) is the name used by Amtrak for the 20 high-speed tilting trains that run between Washington, D.C. and Boston via New York City and Philadelphia along the Northeast Corridor of the United States. The tilting design allows an increase in speed versus conventional trains when running through the many curves of the Northeast Corridor, making Acela Express trains the only true high-speed trainsets in the country. This has made the trains very popular, and by some reckoning, Amtrak has captured nearly half of the market share of travelers between Boston and New York.

Due to safety issues involving the trains' brake systems, they were removed from service in April 2005, though these problems are in the process of being resolved.

The Acela name—derived from "acceleration" and "excellence"—was originally used in a rebranding of multiple Amtrak services in the U.S. Northeast. Acela Regional was used for conventional services on the main Northeast Corridor as well as trains on the Empire Corridor to Albany and on the Keystone Corridor to Harrisburg. Acela Commuter was designated, but never used, for the Clocker service trains operating between New York's Penn Station and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. The high-speed trains were known as Acela Express, just as they are now, though many people just called them "Acela". Confusion about the different services led to the Acela Regional name being shorted to simply Regional.

Contents

The need for speed

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The dense population of the Northeastern United States makes the Northeast Corridor the most heavily-traveled portion of the American passenger rail system. In order to compete with airliners, Amtrak needed to increase the speed of trains in the region. However, this area of the rail system was also burdened by sharp turns that prevented regular trains from achieving high speeds, and building new, straighter tracks as had been done in France and Germany was not an option. In October 1994, Amtrak requested bids from train manufacturers who could design rolling stock that could negotiate the crowded system at up to 150 miles per hour (241 km/h). A joint project set up by Bombardier (75%) and Alstom (25%) was selected for the project in March 1996. The tilting design was used to compensate for the track's curvature and ensure that passengers would remain comfortable at higher speeds than a conventional train could safely achieve on the same tracks.

High-speed service was originally expected in 1999, but various problems appeared. First off, the trains were four inches (about 10 cm) too wide, and weren't able to achieve the speeds originally intended. After a series of false starts, the first Acela Express services began in December 2000.

Thanks to recent improvements to railroad infrastructure, notably complete electrification of the line, the trains have become much faster; one can travel between Boston and New York in under three and a half hours. This, as well as the relative convenience of rail as opposed to air travel especially after September 11, have made the Acela competitive with the Northeast air shuttles.

High-speed rail is usually defined as traveling faster than 200 km/h, or about 125 mph. The highest speed limit for Acela Express is 150 mph (241 km/h) only on on two sections of track in Rhode Island totalling 18 miles (29 km). There are also many miles of track, especially north of New Haven, that have been upgraded to 110 and 125 mph (177 and 201 km/h). South of New York, Acela Express is limited to 135 mph (217 km/h) with many stretches of 125 mph (201 km/h). The slowest section of the electrified NEC is the portion owned by Connecticut's Department of Transportation between New Haven and the New York State line. Trains here are limited to only 90 mph (145 km/h).

Although the design of the trains, with identical power cars at each end, invokes that of France's TGV, the Acela's only component directly derived from the TGV is its electric motor; the tilting carriages are based upon Bombardier's earlier LRC trains rather than the TGV's articulated trailers, and the locomotives are much heavier than those of the TGV in order to meet North America's crash standards.

Acela outages

In August, 2002, shortly after their introduction, Acela trainsets were briefly removed from service when the brackets that connected truck (bogie) dampers to the powerunit carbodies ("yaw dampers") were found to be cracking. The trains were returned to service when a program of frequent inspections was instituted. The damper brackets have since been redesigned and the old brackets replaced with the newer design.

On April 15, 2005, Acela trains were again removed from service when cracks were found in the disk brakes of most of the passenger coaches. As of June 9 their return to limited service is expected by July, and full service resuming in the autumn. At the time of the failure, Bombardier (the vendor) reported that they had approximately 80 replacement brake disks on hand whereas about 300 would be required to complete just the current repair work. (For more information, click here (http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Hot_Deals_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1093553995723&ssid=25).)

Attributes and amenities

Seats on the Acela Express are colored blue; the interior is largely white and brightly lit with large windows; there are tables in the first-class section, while other cars are business-class and include a "quiet car" in which talking on cell phones is banned and the lights are sometimes dimmed. A complementary audio service is provided and there is beer on tap.

They can be identified in timetables by their four-digit train numbers in the 2000-series.

Stations

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Acela in West Windsor, NJ

The trains stop at the following stations. Stations only served by some trains are marked with an asterisk. For details on connections, and other trains which make more local stops, see Northeast Corridor.

See also

External links

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  • Amtrak: Acela Express (http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Route/Vertical_Route_Page&c=am2Route&cid=1080772074490&ssid=134) official home page
  • Trainweb.com: Acela (http://www.trainweb.org/tgvpages/acela.html)
  • Travel & Leisure: Amtrak accelerates at last (http://www.travelandleisure.com/invoke.cfm?objectID=CA07F993-C17D-43E4-A432EBF2120ED267)

References

fr:Acela ja:Acela nl:Acela

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