Amtrak To Break Speed Limit in Test Runs Along the Northeast Corridor

Amtrak announced today (Monday 24th September) that it is going to do test runs of it’s Acela Express train overnight, in four stretches covering Maryland to Massachusetts, reaching speeds of 165 mph in the process.

Test locations Perryville, Md. to Wilmington, Del. and Trenton to New Brunswick, N.J currently have a speed limit of 135 mph whilst the two other test locations, Westerly to Cranston in Rhode Island and South Attleboro to Readville in Massachusetts, currently have 150 mph speed limits.

$450 Federal High-Speed Rail Program in New Jersey

It is hoped that all of the test locations may have regular 160 mph services in the future, with New Jersey in particular upgrading track, signals, electric power and other systems over the next several years as part of a $450 million project funded by the federal high-speed rail program aimed at improving reliability and to permit regular train operations at faster speeds.

Amtrak High-Speed Acela Service

The 100 miles to be tested were tested at the same top speed of 165 mph back in the 1990’s but before the introduction of high-speed Acela service. Cliff Cole, Amtrak’s spokesman explained that despite the previous testing at this top speed, federal regulations required another batch of testing, in order to raise the top speed limit further.

Cole confirmed that Acela Express equipment will be used for the tests which will start at 10.30pm in New Jersey and continue all week. There will be no disruption to normal rail operations as all test runs will be carried out at night when there is minimal rail service on the lines. The cars will be equipped with instruments that will record a variety of data and show that at a speed 5 mph faster than what is expected to be the maximum operating speed, the rail tracks and systems can accommodate the new speed limit.

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