Amtrak increasing speed of Acela trains through electrification upgrades

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Amtrak passengers can now travel even faster on its Acela high-speed service, as recent infrastructure improvements along a 16-mile segment of track between New Brunswick and South Brunswick can accommodate speeds of up to 150 mph.

This project is part of the New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement program and a US$450 million investment by US DOT, and the first of many speed upgrades anticipated in the NEC that lays the framework for future trip time reduction and improves the reliability of intercity and commuter services on one of the most heavily used sections of the NEC.

The completed scope included installation of new signal power cables, new catenary overhead wire supports and wire renewal, installation of high-speed turnouts, and renewed power substations. An additional eight miles of catenary between South Brunswick and Trenton, New Jersey, are also currently being upgraded, with completion and speed increases expected in 2024.

The 150 mph speeds are the fastest of any train in North America and match top speeds in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Additionally, the upgrades will also allow the new Acela trains to achieve speeds of 160 mph when introduced in fall 2023, further solidifying the NEC as a high-speed rail corridor and allowing Amtrak to further reduce trip time in the years ahead.

“The upgrades coming from the New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement Program exemplify our continual commitment to upgrade the Northeast Corridor and transform the customer experience as we welcome more passengers back on board,” said Amtrak president and CEO Stephen Gardner. “Thanks to the hard work by Amtrak’s Infrastructure Maintenance and Construction Services Team and our DOT and commuter partners, our customers will experience more reliable and faster trains and better on-time performance on this busy section of the NEC.”