First of four new passenger car types now in field testing
WASHINGTON – The Amtrak program to modernize its long-distance train equipment has advanced to a key milestone as the first of four new passenger car types is in field testing.
“It is clear that Americans want a national system of intercity passenger rail and Amtrak is moving ahead to build new equipment to meet customer demand,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.
The first car type now in field testing is a baggage car and will be used on all 15 longdistance routes across the Amtrak national system. The updated design provides for improved reliability and maintenance, and better baggage loading/unloading procedures. Also, the new built-in luggage racks can secure unboxed bicycles to support the growing demand by passengers to bring their bikes onboard an expanding number of routes.
The field testing program has several elements, including compatibility tests to ensure the baggage car couples cleanly with, and can operate through a curve without interference with, numerous types of Amtrak cars and locomotives. In addition, there are tests for speed, stability, braking, noise, interaction of the wheel sets with the rail as well as actual baggage handling.
Field testing will continue through October with the baggage car traveling on the Northeast Corridor and on routes to Chicago, New Orleans and Miami. The expectation is that new baggage cars will begin entering revenue service by the end of 2014.
The baggage cars are part of a larger order for 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars, including diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars being built by CAF USA of Elmira, N.Y. All four car types will modernize the Amtrak fleet, improve reliability and maintenance, upgrade passenger amenities, travel at speeds up to 125 mph and replace units built as far back as the 1940s and 1950s. The diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars will be used on eastern long-distance routes with the first units of each expected to begin field testing this summer.
Long-distance trains form the backbone of the Amtrak national system, connect small towns to major cities, support local economic development, deliver passengers to state-supported corridor trains and conduct interstate trade and commerce. Their principal mission is connectivity, and it is an increasingly important one to communities that have been losing their bus and air connections at a steady pace over the last decade.
Since 1998, Amtrak long-distance ridership has grown by roughly 20 percent, without the introduction of any new services, frequencies, or equipment. In FY 2013, long-distance ridership reached its highest point in twenty years with 4.8 million passengers. In addition, longdistance trains are, on average, as full on the peak leg of their trips as are the premium Acela Express services on the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak is America’s Railroad®, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. Amtrak and its state and commuter partners move people, the economy and the nation forward. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a nine member board of directors appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. In FY 2014, nearly 31 million passengers traveled on Amtrak on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter (@Amtrak) and check out our blog at blog.amtrak.com.