Tips + Trends

Why We Can’t Wait to Ride Amtrak’s Acela Between DC and NYC in 2021

Amtrak will have its new high-speed trains running by 2021. (Photo courtesy of Amtrak)

Taking Amtrak’s Acela express service from Washington, D.C., to New York City isn’t a bad experience. But anyone who has traveled on one of Europe’s high-speed trains knows it falls far short of the kind of experience it could be.

Amtrak plans to step it up soon. The company will overhaul the Acela service in 2021 with a shiny new train set—make that 28 of them—that will fly up and down the Northeast Corridor.

Enhancements will include one-third more passenger seating with more outlets and the addition of USB outlets, as well as faster WiFi, a major draw for business travelers who have been frustrated by spotty Internet accessibility while trying to work. Amtrak also claims the trains will provide a “smoother and quieter ride.”

Built in New York, the trains, which are more energy efficient, will also be more aerodynamic, enabling them to travel at faster speeds of up to 186 mph. Japan’s bullet trains go up to 200 mph. Acela trainsets are currently the fastest in the U.S., and travel up to 150 mph.

Overall, the update will increase the Acela fleet by 40%, and enable Amtrak to run the trains between DC and NYC every half hour, depending on demand.

Amtrak's new Acela Express will fly up the Northeast Corridor in 2021. (Photos courtesy of Amtrak)
Amtrak’s new Acela Express will fly up the Northeast Corridor in 2021. (Photos courtesy of Amtrak)
Amtrak's redesigned Acela will be more aerodynamic, enabling it to travel at faster speeds.
Amtrak’s redesigned Acela will be more aerodynamic, enabling it to travel at faster speeds.
The interior of Amtrak's new Acela cars will feature more seats.
The interior of Amtrak’s new Acela cars will feature more seats.
Amtrak will also introduce a new redesigned cafe car when it launches its new Acela in 2021.
Amtrak will also introduce a new redesigned cafe car when it launches its new Acela in 2021.

In addition to the shiny new trains, Washington, DC’s Union Station and New York City’s Penn Station will also get upgrades. The tracks between DC and Boston will also be improved, helping to significantly smoothen what can be a bumpy ride at times.

Amtrak is paying for the upgrades with a $2.45 billion loan from the federal government.

For one of Amtrak’s most popular services, it’s money well spent.

The first prototypes of the trains will be tested sometime in 2019, with service to officially start in 2021. All trains will run by 2022.

We know we’re not alone when we say that 2021 can’t come soon enough.