The North East Corridor (NEC) is one of the arterial railways of the USA connecting the political and financial capitals of the country. The NEC is a 735 Km long route which connects Washington DC to New York and Boston. The route is one of the few high speed rail networks in the USA where Amtrak operates the Acela Expresses. However, these trains have aged and have lived their life.
In 2016, Amtrak placed an order worth US$ 2.45 Billion on Alstom to deliver 28 new train sets to replace the Acelas. These new trains are the Avelia Liberty trains which are capable of achieving a maximum speed of 300 Km/h (196 mph). The trains comprise two power cars and nine articulated trailers which can seat 386 passengers. The capacity of the Avelia Liberty is 30% more than that of the outgoing Acela. In addition, the Avelia Liberty are also installed with several added facilities for passengers like Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, integrated passenger information system etc.
The Avelia Liberty is installed with Alstom’s Tiltronix system which is an anticipatory tilting system. This system tilts the train into corners allowing them to turn at higher speeds and thus maintain higher average speeds. The articulated design of Avelia Liberty adds further benefits like increased rigidity. This rigidity of the train set prevents deformation and mitigates the risk of tipping over in the event of derailment. The bogies in Avelia Liberty are placed between cars instead of beneath seats, this allows the passengers to have a more relaxed journey due to reduced noise and vibration levels.
These trains are being manufactured by Alstom at their Hornell plant in the USA. When in service, these trains will be operated at a speed of 255 km/h (160 mph) in view of the speed restrictions and design of the NEC. The first train has been completed and is starting trials. It is expected to enter service by 2021. All the 28 train sets will replace the Acela trains which will be phased out from 2022. Till date Alstom has sold 450 Avelia train sets across the globe.
The contracts does not only cover the supply of 28 train sets but also covers long-term technical support and supply of spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new train sets. The trains would be maintained at Amtrak’s Boston, New York and Washington DC depots under a specific Technical Support and Spare Supply Agreement with additional support from Alstom’s sites in New York, Delaware and Illinois.