Alstom lands Amtrak next-gen NEC trainset contract
September 27, 2016 - Amtrak has contracted with Alstom to supply 28 next-generation high-speed” trainsets that will replace popular yet aging and technically problematic Acela Express equipment.
The new trainsets will be based on Alstom’s iconic and venerable TGV, in service round the globe for more than 35 years. Alstom’s North American version, which like the Acela Express will be a tilting trainset with power cars at each end but unlike the aptly-nicknamed “Fast Pig” will be articulated, is called the “Avelia Liberty.” It will have one-third more passenger seats, modern amenities that can be upgraded as customer preferences evolve such as improved Wi-Fi access, personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat, enhanced food service and “a smoother, more reliable ride.”
Alstom describes the Avelia Liberty as the latest development in its high-speed trainset portfoilio. “The new trainset will be able to carry up to 33% more passengers than the current Acela Express trains,” Alstom said. “Its 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 300 kph (186 mph), but will initially operate at a maximum speed of 257 kph (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 trainset’s articulated architecture, which provides greater stability and passenger comfort while enhancing safety. The Avelia Liberty also includes Alstom’s innovative Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology, which allows it to negotiate curves safely and more comfortably at high speeds.”
The trainsets will also meet current Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) safety guidelines, including a Crash Energy Management system. Amtrak is funding the trainsets and related NEC infrastructure improvements through an FRA RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing) loan that will be repaid “through growth in NEC revenues.”
The contract is part of $2.45 billion “that will be invested on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor (NEC) as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand the Acela Express service,” Amtrak said when announcing the contract on Aug. 26, 2016. The official unveiling occurred at Amtrak’s Wilmington, Del., station on the NEC, and it was given by, among others, one of Amtrak’s staunchest supporters and valued customers—Vice President Joe Biden, who in his days as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, commuted almost daily between his home in his home state and his office in Washington D.C.
Amtrak and Alstom also signed a long-term contract under which Alstom will provide long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts. Combined, these contracts are worth $2 billion.
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