Skip to main content

February 13, 2020

Amtrak Marks Major Milestone by Beginning High-Speed Testing of the First Trainset for its New Acela Fleet

Train to travel from New York to Colorado ahead of 2021 launch

WASHINGTON – The first of Amtrak’s 28 new Acela trainsets, scheduled to enter service throughout the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in 2021, will be leaving from Alstom’s facility in Hornell, N.Y. on Monday, Feb, 17 for high-speed testing at the Transportation Technology Center near Pueblo, Colo. Nine months of dynamic testing will include the trainset’s pantograph, railway dynamics, tilting, traction, slip/slide and wayside protection, brakes, and train control management systems. Once complete, the trainset will return to Alstom for installation of its interiors.

“Amtrak is proud to celebrate this major achievement for the new Acela fleet program, as we are bringing customers one step closer to enjoying the benefits of these new trains,” said Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson. “With strong demand for Acela travel continuing to grow, we will test the trains to ensure customers will have safe and reliable service with modern amenities when these trains go into service next year.”

“Alstom is immensely pleased to partner with Amtrak to deliver Acela high-speed trainsets for service on the Northeast Corridor,” said Jérôme Wallut, Senior Vice-President for Alstom in North America. “We would like to thank and congratulate all of our employees, suppliers and partners who helped make this important milestone a reality. This milestone is another step closer in the realization of high-speed train manufacturing here in America.”

Amtrak served more than 3.5 million Acela customers in FY19, a 4.3% increase from FY18. In Dec. 2019, Acela had its best month ever, with a 16% ridership increase over the previous year.

The new trains will accommodate nearly 25 percent more customers while continuing the spacious, high-end comfort of the current Acela service. Each train will feature improved Wi-Fi access, personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights and feature sustainable components, including seating made from recycled leather.

Acela trains are also the country’s fastest, most comfortable and all-electric intercity trains, providing a more environmentally friendly way to travel. Amtrak will further reduce its carbon footprint by using 40 percent less energy per Acela customer when these trains enter service.

In preparation for the new fleet, Amtrak is undertaking a record amount of track and infrastructure work along the NEC aimed at improving ride quality, increasing reliability, and increasing overall on-time performance. Additional information about Amtrak’s support of the new Acela can be found at

Alstom is building the next generation high-speed Acela trainsets using parts manufactured by nearly 250 suppliers in 27 states, with 95 percent of the components produced domestically. More than 1,300 new jobs are being generated in nearly 90 communities across the United States to support production, including the creation of new, sustainable, high-tech, engineering and manufacturing jobs. Alstom employs more than 800 people in Hornell, including members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The prototype set will travel from Buffalo, N.Y., to La Junta, Colo., via Chicago, from the 17– 19, on the route used by the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief trains. Those who want to see or take photos of this movement are reminded to stay well-away from the tracks and platforms, and should absolutely not trespass on private railroad property.

Alstom has also completed the assembly of its second trainset, which is expected to travel to Amtrak’s Penn Coach Yard in Philadelphia for testing in March 2020. The construction of the third trainset began in November 2019 and is tentatively scheduled to travel to Philadelphia for testing in September 2020.

To see photos of the new fleet under construction, on its way to Pueblo, and/or mockups of the interiors, please see our photo album here.

For More Information

Jason Abrams
Amtrak Contact
202 906.3860

Michelle Stein
Alstom Contact
917 972.3490

About Amtrak®

Amtrak offers a more comfortable and convenient travel experience, plenty of leg room and no middle seat. With our state and commuter partners, we move people, the economy and the nation forward, carrying more than 30 million Amtrak customers for the past nine years. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily, connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces, and reaches 400 additional destinations via connecting bus routes. We are committed to operating a safe, environmentally efficient and fiscally responsible business, which is essential to our future growth. Book travel, check train status, access your eTicket and more through the Amtrak app. Learn more at