Since its inaugural run on Dec. 11, 2000, performance and revenue numbers of Amtrak’s Acela Express have consistently improved, exceeding original expectations.
Ridership figures, on-time arrivals and revenue also steadily improved, prompting Amtrak to double the number of trains it runs between New York, Boston and Providence, R.I. In an effort to meet rising demands for leisure travel, Amtrak is also adding weekend service to all Acela Express routes. The changes were set to take effect April 29.
Amtrak reported that Acela Express reached its destination on schedule 94% of the time in its first month of operation, based on the 15-minute allowance used by the airline industry. Since then, it has been on or ahead of schedule about 97% of the time. During a six-week stretch in January and February, the evening train from Boston arrived in New York ahead of schedule in 23 out of 30 trips.
It is estimated that more than 82,000 passengers will have used the service by the end of April, and that number is expected to grow rapidly. Meanwhile, revenue estimates, which were about 8% ahead of projections through February, swelled to 10% better than what was originally expected.
With officials saying that train ridership is reaching record proportions, Amtrak plans to continue adding trainsets to its Acela Express service. “We really need more trains in service before we can start drawing conclusions, but so far revenue has exceeded projections and ridership in pretty much where we expected it to be,” said Amtrak spokesman Rick Remington.
Train manufacturers ALSTOM and Bombardier are contracted to produce and deliver a total of 20 trains to Amtrak, which will gradually integrate them into the service over the next year. Amtrak also began running its Acela Super Express, with fewer stops and shorter trip times, in March.
Currently, Acela Express has two morning trips daily from Washington, D.C., to New York and two afternoon trips daily from New York to Washington. It also offers one morning trip and one afternoon trip from New York to Boston and one of each from Boston to New York. The schedule times also allow for one roundtrip daily between Washington and Boston. Acela Express has additional stops in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Providence and several other Northeastern cities.
At speeds of up to 150 mph, the train makes the trip between Washington and New York in about 2 hours and 30 minutes, and it takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes between New York and Boston.