Elon Musk’s dream of an ultra-fast Hyperloop transportation service has made plenty of progress since he first mooted the idea back in 2012, but existing outfits like Amtrak are determined not to fall by the wayside anytime soon.
The nation’s intercity passenger rail service has just revealed plans to pump $2.45 billion into the business, with the bulk of the money going on faster, high-tech trains along the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
The new rolling stock will replace the current Acela Express equipment running on the NEC between Boston and Washington D.C., and begin service in 2021 – the same year Hyperloop One wants to launch its first passenger service, though admittedly it’s likely to be outside of the U.S.
While the new trains certainly won’t match the awesome speeds of the Hyperloop’s proposed passenger pods, their improved top speed of 186 mph will still be a noticeable improvement on the current rolling stock, which top out at 150 mph.
Amtrak is also promising “a more comfortable and productive travel experience,” with improved Wi-Fi access and quality, USB ports and power outlets for all seats, and adjustable reading lights for travelers, among other features.
And with 40 percent more trains planned for the 440-mile route, passengers will have plenty more travel options too, the company said in a release. Finally, it said the train’s more aerodynamic design should ensure energy savings of at least 20 percent.
A portion of the $2.45 billion investment – a loan from the federal government – will also be spent on improvements to facilities such as Washington Union Station as well as on New York’s under-construction Moynihan Station.
In 2015, Amtrak carried 11.7 million passengers between Boston and D.C., marking its best year ever for its NEC operation. The announced improvements to its service will take a few years to show up, but Amtrak will be hoping it can continue to build on those numbers well into the future.