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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Secretary Slater Announces Approval of 150mph Amtrak Acela Service

Document Series
Press Releases
Press Release Number
Contact Name
Warren Flatau
Contact Phone Number
Amtrak, Acela Express, Northeast
Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Wednesday, October 18, 2000 (Washington, DC) U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today announced Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approval of high-speed service for Amtrak’s Acela Express equipment on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). FRA’s approval indicates that Amtrak has satisfactorily demonstrated that the trainset is qualified to operate up to 150mph on the NEC.

"Today, Amtrak is working with some 30 states on high-speed rail corridors," said Secretary Slater. "With the introduction of Acela Express , passage of the High Speed Rail Investment Act is the next step in providing America with a balanced transportation system - one that relies on passenger rail as well as on highways."

The bipartisan High Speed Rail Investment Act, now pending in Congress, calls for federal sponsorship to secure $10 billion in private sector investment to develop high speed rail corridors throughout the nation. This long-term capital investment will help unclog highways and airports, serve as an engine of economic growth and broaden the options available to travelers.

During the rollout ceremony of Amtrak’s Acela Express , Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer L. Downey celebrated the decision. " Acela Express is going to transform transportation along the Northeast Corridor," said Downey. "I am delighted to help Amtrak celebrate the arrival of the Acela Express and reaffirm the Administration’s strong support for high-speed rail."

The Department of Transportation’s decision clears the way for Amtrak to operate the Acela Express at speeds up to 150mph in revenue service. Bombardier Alstom, the manufacturer of the Acela Express , delivered today the first of 20 trains included in Amtrak’s initial order. The approval includes a list of operating conditions governing maximum allowable track speeds under the revised Federal Track Safety Standards issued in June 1998. The approval also includes ongoing safety monitoring requirements to be carried out by Amtrak and FRA.

"In approving this trainset for use on the NEC, we are recognizing that it has complied with the most stringent safety standards in the world." said Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris. " Acela Express is the first train ever constructed to meet our exacting requirements."

Acela Express services will operate at speeds of up to 150 mph between New York and Boston, and 135 mph between New York and Washington, D.C. During testing on the NEC, the train achieved speeds of 170mph. Acela Express passenger cars were designed with several crash energy management features as required under the first-ever comprehensive Passenger Equipment Safety Standards issued in May 1999.

DOT’s approval will not only enable faster trip times on the North End of the NEC between New York and Boston but greater frequencies as well. The improved service is expected to relieve some airport congestion at New York’s LaGuardia and Boston’s Logan airports, as well as highway congestion on I-95, the nation’s busiest Interstate corridor. In addition, the new Acela Express equipment has numerous amenities that will provide greater comfort and convenience to passengers.

Acela Express has been subjected to the most rigorous safety testing program in Amtrak’s history. Tests were conducted initially at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado, and then on the NEC. Successful operation of the Acela Express equipment is expected to facilitate initiation of high-speed passenger rail services across the country.

This decision follows Secretary Slater’s announcement last week designating two new high-speed rail corridors in Northern New England and the South Central states, and the extension of three existing designated corridors to serve Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Pennsylvania.


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