Acela's new $2B French trains not designed to operate on crappy US tracks

{{Amtrak’s $2 billion effort to replace its fleet of Acela express trains on the Washington-to-Boston corridor has hit a foreseeable snag: The new trains have to run on an old railroad.

The trains from France-based Alstom were originally set to begin service in 2021, but Amtrak and Alstom officials now say they will remain sidetracked at least until 2024 as the manufacturer struggles with mandatory testing intended to show how the units will perform in real-world conditions.

The core problem, they say, is that the Acela runs on tracks shared with commuter and freight trains—not the purpose-built, high-speed tracks found in Europe and Asia.}}



Yup. iirc, the freights do the most damage, due to their weight, and the Roads that own the track and run the freight, are not concerned about the condition of the track, because a load of coal doesn’t object if it gets bounced around a bit.

For those who may not have noticed, in the video of a TGV hitting 357mph, the TGV tracks are not only restricted to passenger traffic only, and specially designed and maintained, they don’t have any grade crossings. All the roads go either over, or under, the tracks. Think a freight traveling at 50mph makes a mess of a car on the crossing? Imagine the same car being hit by a train at 200mph. I’m thinking explosive disassembly.


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The corridor has supposed to have high speed rail put in for years. Parts of the tracks may have been laid. I am not sure. I live in a valley outside of Hartford. We do not use the trains very often. Projects have more than been proposed but only stretches may have gotten done.

The good news some infrastructure money might come into play. Even if not directly for the rail projects federal monies for other purposes offset state budgets for rail projects and other things.

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Our family are big Amtrak (PVD ↔ NYP) riders. Depending on schedule and cost, each of us decides whether the Acela is worth the extra cost, which usually shaves about 30 minutes off the trip.

I recall one time our Acela broke down and we sat on the tracks while the “regionals” were passing us on the other set of tracks… At one point, people were jumping off the train and climbing a very steep embankment to get to the road above. Unbelievable.

Those tracks, like many of the highways in the Northeast corridor, are old and maintenance is underfunded. We need another “Big Dig” project (thanks everyone!) in the Northeast corridor.



Without the paywall.

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In the comments to that WSJ article I found this:

{{{The average speed of these so-called “high-speed trains” between Boston and New York is approximately 60 mph. For half the price, one can take the conventional Regional train and arrive half an hour later. The Acela travels at its top speed for maybe twenty miles south of Boston on the way to Providence, RI. After that, it’s back to speeds exceeded by driving one’s own car. The hairpin turns in and out of New London, CT slow these trains to a crawl.

Moreover, what confidence should anyone have with “simulated” testing? Garbage In, Garbage Out!}}}}




CT’s I84 is now 60 years old. It needed a complete redo. Pretty much on schedule we are doing it. Larger portions of the highway are really nice now.


For my family to use it we need to go to New Haven. At that point we are on the old Amtrak all the way from Hartford.

Our bus station and train station are together as one. We more often just take the bus. We can also pick up the bus in places other than Hartford.