Alstom and Amtrak have signed a contract for Alstom to design and build 28 new high-speed trains, which will run on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C. Amtrak and Alstom also signed a long-term contract under which Alstom will provide Amtrak with long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new trainsets. Together, these contracts are worth approximately $2 billion.
The NEC line covers roughly 457 miles. In only 10 years, the number of passengers has increased from 2.4 million passengers in FY 2002 to 3.5 million in FY 2014. As part of an effort to renew and expand their premium product, Amtrak has therefore decided to purchase new trainsets to replace the existing Acela trains, thus increasing passenger capacity, providing more frequent service, minimizing journey times, and improving operating costs and energy efficiency.
Funding for the trains, as well as necessary track upgrades between the New Carrolton and Baltimore stations, and perform station and platform improvements at four of the busiest stations in the NEC, will come from a $2.45 billion loan to Amtrak by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Build America Bureau through its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program – marking the largest single loan in the Department of Transportation’s history. The loan was announced by Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez at the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington, Del.
“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,” Vice President Biden said. “We need these kinds of investments to keep this region — and our whole country — moving, and to create new jobs.”
The train ordered by Amtrak is Avelia Liberty, the latest development of Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia. The new trainset will be able to carry up to 33% more passengers than the current Acela trains. The trainset configuration includes an innovative compact power car and nine passenger cars, with the possibility of three more being added if demand grows. The train is capable of travelling at speeds up to 186 mph, but will initially operate at a maximum speed of 160 mph, based on NEC track speed limits. Additionally, each concentrated power car is equipped with Alstom’s pioneering Crash Energy Management (CEM) system.
Another key feature is the train’s articulated architecture, which provides greater stability and passenger comfort while enhancing safety. The train also includes Alstom’s innovative Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology, which allows the train to maneuver curves safely and more comfortably at high speeds.
Most of the Avelia Liberty for Amtrak will be manufactured in the U.S. The new trainsets will be manufactured at Alstom’s 150 year-old historic site in Hornell, N.Y. They will be maintained in the depots of Amtrak in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. under a specific Technical Support and Spare Supply Agreement with additional support from Alstom’s sites in New York, Delaware and Illinois for a period of 15 years, with an option for an additional 15 years.