How Time Flies, 15 Years of Acela Express

How Time Flies, 15 Years of Acela Express

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the first day of Acela Express service. As the only provider of high-speed rail in the country, we can proudly say, it’s been an awesome journey that warrants a little celebration. But before we Acelabrate, let’s look back at where we’ve been.

Back when Johnny Carson was hosting the Tonight Show and a tweet was just a sound birds made, Amtrak was preparing the Northeast Corridor (NEC) for Acela Express service. Serious planning for higher speed rail over the entire NEC between Washington, DC and Boston began in the early 1990s. A push came when Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, stating that “It is the policy of the United States to promote the construction and commercialization of high-speed ground transportation systems…” including high-speed rail. Translation, high-speed rail was a go!

From that point forward, Amtrak got to work. In 1992 and 1993, Amtrak leased two European trainsets for testing on the NEC. Three years later, crews began the hard work of electrifying the 157 miles of the NEC between New Haven, Connecticut and Boston. Before Acela even got rolling, Amtrak surveyed 24,000 customers to gauge their opinions on ideal frequencies, upgrades and desired features. Amenities like outlets at every seat, conference tables, Amtrak Guest Rewards and eventually the quiet car, were all a result of the thoughts shared by our customers.

On November 16, 2000, an exclusive invite only preview trip from Washington, DC to Boston aboard Acela Express was held for media, Amtrak Board of Directors, federal and elected official and a few celebs like Henry Wrinkler aka The Fonz were in attendance. The ride ended as Acela Express pulled into the Boston South Station to a display of fireworks that lit up the evening sky. And thus Acela, simply a smarter way to travel on the Northeast Corridor, was born.

With trips at speeds up to 150 miles per hour and nearly 10,000 daily riders, Acela has become the standard for those who seek downtown-to-downtown convenience, superior comfort, upscale amenities and the welcomed silence of the quiet car. In fact, since its launch in 2000, more than 42 million riders have shown their approval for high speed rail by choosing Acela. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll share more about Acela’s innovative footprint on Amtrak’s history, peek ahead at the future of high-speed rail and of course share Amtrak Stories from some of Acela’s most frequent riders. All aboard, high-speed rail is 15 and it’s officially time to #Acelabrate.