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Amtrak: Longer wait for new trains


Passengers waiting for Amtrak's Acela Express, America's only true TGV, won't see the line's promised new cars until late next year, a full two years after they were originally supposed to debut, replacing older equipment and upping the top speed of the line that runs between Boston and Washington.

A 2020 report from Amtrak's Inspector General in 2020 had predicted some slippage because of manufacturing delays, but the additional delay from this spring to fall 2023 also involves an entire new round of testing resulting from design issues uncovered in the first round of testing.

The trainsets, eventually 28 of them, are being built in upstate New York by Alstom, the French company that has built many of France's TGV trains. However, in the first round of testing, the trains had difficulty with the old and curvy tracks along the Northeast Corridor, and also often lost contact with the overhead power wire. Modifications have been made, but now must be tested.

Initial tests on specially-built test tracks at the Department of Transportation facility at Pueblo, Colorado were successful, with the train able to operate properly even faster than the 160 mph limit on the fastest part of the Northeast Corridor, but problems showed up with tested on the actual line.

Larry Biess, the Amtrak official in charge of the Acela rollout, told press that “The track was basically designed in the 1800s. It’s very curvy. It presents a bit more of a challenge than the track that this train runs on in Europe. If we were running on a straighter track, with a more modern infrastructure, it probably wouldn’t have taken as long as it has.”

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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