NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — America is behind Europe and Asia when it comes to passenger trains.
Amtrak is hoping to shorten that gap with a new line of Acela trains in 2021.
CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave took a look at the rides that will be faster and offer new features.
Inside a sprawling western New York factory, the future of America’s high-speed rail is starting to take shape in the same spot where trains have been serviced, built and rehabbed since the 1850s.
They start as a shell before some of the 800 who work in the Hornell, New York, plant build them into the trains that will replace Amtrak’s aging first-generation high-speed rail effort, the Acela.
Former Delta Air Lines CEO, Richard Anderson, now runs Amtrak. He says the new Acela is “incredibly important” to the future of Amtrak.
“It really lays out a clear vision for what short-haul, intercity passenger rail transportation can do for this country,” he said.
The updated Acela trains are faster. They will hold about 380 people, which is 25% more passengers than the old ones, and are designed to tilt as they take turns, allowing them to go faster. Amtrak’s most lucrative corridor linking Boston, New York and Washington will see a cut in travel time by at least 15 minutes.
“We’ve got a position, Amtrak, to have a modern product that a millennial wants to get on with high-speed Wifi, craft beers and reliable schedules that beat buses, cars and airplanes,” Anderson said.
The new model meets new stronger crash-worthiness standards and is designed not to jackknife, guarding against the kind of derailment that killed eight people when Amtrak 188 took a turn too fast near Philadephia in 2015.
“They’re the most modern trains in the world,” Scott Sherin, Alstom vice president, said.
On the inside, there’s faster Wifi, USB charging in each seat, reading lights and winged headrests, so no one can fall asleep on your shoulder.