Amtrak’s President & CEO Reflects on Acela 15th Anniversary
Rarely do we have enough of it and many days we are looking for more. We don’t like when our time is wasted and we’re constantly trying to get ahead of it. Fifteen years ago, Amtrak introduced higher speed rail in the form of the Acela Express to the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The goal was to not only give you time back with faster trips at speeds up to 150 miles per hour, but to help you make the best of the time you spent with us.
My how time flies.
In the time since the Acela introduction, America has shown its approval of high speed rail with more than 42 million passengers choosing Acela Express since its launch in 2000, including 3.5 million passengers in 2014. Today, Acela Express often sells out, especially during peak periods. The sleek, silver trainsets have revolutionized travel in the NEC, shortening travel times between the city centers of Washington D.C., New York City and Boston and also providing passengers with a comfortable riding experience to work, freely move around and relax. The allure of the train is palpable as thousands of professionals and time-conscious passengers who have made Acela their travel mode of choice time and time again.
Changing your business and ours.
Today, more passengers now choose Amtrak between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined and Acela’s comfort and amenities such as leather seats with plug-in power, conference tables and spacious overhead bins allow them to be more productive during the trip and more refreshed when they get to their destination. Time well spent.
For 15 years, Acela has carried the banner of high speed rail in America and it long ago became an unqualified success. Amtrak is celebrating the anniversary with “Acelabrations,” special events on our trains and in stations for customers and employees. Acela represents not only a vision of American ingenuity and achievement but also validation that high speed rail works in this country and is a good investment. Demand continues to grow and now it is time to focus on the next-generation of Acela.
Amtrak will soon announce a contract to acquire new, more technologically advanced trainsets to supplement and eventually replace its current AcelaExpress equipment. These new trainsets will have more seats without giving up space, more amenities and be capable of operating as fast or faster than Acela today. But the full potential of new Acela Express trainsets cannot be realized without investments in the corridor that carries them.
Each weekday, 750,000 people travel along the NEC for work, commerce, friends, family and fun, making it one of the largest economic drivers of our American economy. With one out of five U.S. jobs and one out of three Fortune 100 firms located in the NEC, this rail system is one the region and the country rely upon. Yet, some of this travel takes place on infrastructure that is more than a century old. Growth along the NEC shows no sign of slowing as the population in the northeast region is estimated to increase from roughly 50 million residents today to 65 million in 2050. This growth of people looking to travel and do business throughout the region will strain an already stressed network unless we invest in the NEC.
Amtrak has and will continue to advocate for the NEC’s needs, working with our elected leaders, stakeholders and community members to make infrastructure improvements a top priority. See for yourself by following #TimeToBuild or visiting nec.amtrak.com for Amtrak’s plans for investment in the region.
So, we take time to acknowledge what fifteen years of Acela Express has done for Amtrak, what it has done for this country and what it has done for you. We recognize and celebrate the success of Acela and will build upon what we have learned to bring you the next generation of high speed rail. Enjoy the ride.
Amtrak President & CEO