Posts Tagged ‘Acela Express’

Reserved Acela Business Class Seating to Begin

July 29, 2020

Reserved seating in business class aboard Acela trains will begin Aug. 3, Amtrak said.

Until now the only reserved seating aboard Acela trains has been in first class.

The passenger carrier said instituting reserved seating in business class will enable passengers to preview the overall occupancy rate of a train.

Due to social distancing rules, Amtrak is only making available window seats while blocking from sale aisle and rear-facing table seats.

Passengers traveling together may still sit together but must designate reserved seats in other rows.

Amtrak said station and contact-center agents will have the capability to modify seat assignments.

Assigned seating in first class on Acela trains began in 2018.

Amtrak Offering 25% Discounts in Northeast Corridor

June 10, 2020

Amtrak has launched a far sale to try to stimulate ridership in the Northeast Corridor.

The fare are up to 25 percent off regular fares of Acela and Northeast Regional trains and are available through June 30.

Ridership in the corridor has taken a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and Amtrak sharply reduced the number of Northeast Regional trains operating and suspended all Acela Express trains.

Acela service resumed on June 1 when some Northeast Regional trains were reinstated.

Blackout dates include Nov. 24-25 and Nov. 29-30, 2020.

Advanced purchase is required at least three days prior to travel. Fares are one way (adult) and no additional discounts apply.

The discounts are valid for Acela business class seats and Northeast Regional Coach class only. Seating is limited and seats may not be available on all days.

Once purchased, tickets are non-refundable. Exchanges are permitted within the ticket validity period with a 25 percent cancellation fee charges.

Once travel has begun, no changes to the itinerary are permitted. Other restrictions may apply.


Amtrak Eyes Assigned Seating on Trains

June 1, 2020

Amtrak is considering assigned seats on more of its trains as way to aid in enforcing social distancing during the CVOID-19 pandemic.

The passenger carrier already has assigned seating in first class on Acela Express trains and business class on Northeast Regional trains

“We are working on options to expand assigned seating and reserved travel,” said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.

However, he declined to provide further details about when assigned seating might begin.

Amtrak for a time in the middle 1970s on its trains but the practice was short lived.

It is also common for conductors to assign seats to passengers boarding long-distance trains at some stations.

Amtrak Taking ‘Gamble’ on Acela Reinstatement

May 15, 2020

A high-ranking Amtrak executive acknowledged to The Wall Street Journal that returning Acela Express service on June 1 is something of a gamble.

Amtrak Executive Vice President Roger Harris, who serves as the company’s chief marketing officer, said the carrier is betting that some business travel will have resumed by then or will soon resume.

But Harris acknowledged that how soon passengers will return remains unknown.

Harris told the newspaper that Amtrak fears losing premium travelers to air shuttles in between New York and Washington after competing successfully against them for decades.

Only 60 percent of the available seats aboard the trains will be available for sale.

The article also said Amtrak is talking with its unions about delaying a scheduled pay increase set to be awarded on July 1.

Amtrak to Reinstate Some Trains June 1

May 10, 2020

Amtrak corridor services in Michigan and Pennsylvania that have been suspended during the COVID-19 are set to return to operation on June 1.

This includes the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette, the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian, and New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Keystone Service.

Also planned to be reinstated on that date is some modified Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor and the New York-Charlotte Carolinian.

Although Amtrak has not announced the return of the state corridor services, tickets are now for sale on its website for June 1 and beyond.

Keystone Service starting June 1 will only operate between Philadelphia and Harrisburg after being suspended on March 18. There will be nine roundtrips.

The Pere Marquette and Pennsylvanian have been suspended since March 19 while the Carolinian has been idle since April 6.

In the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak said it will operate three Acela roundtrips and increase the number of Northeast Regional roundtrips from eight to 10.

Amtrak Eyes Service Cuts Due to Lost Revenue, Bookings

March 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may cost Amtrak “several hundred million dollars” due to cancellations and depressed bookings.

The passenger carrier has warned its employees that this may result in significant reductions in service.

Thus far Amtrak has suspended operations of three Acela Express trains and will curtail operations in its Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania effective today.

In an announcement posted on its website, Amtrak said that in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Keystone Service will operate on a reduced schedule, with no service to the Ardmore Station.

Effective March 13 Amtrak will operate 18 daily Keystone trains (nine in each direction) along with the Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh.

All trains will remain in service on the weekend. Amtrak said this schedule reflects the “S” schedule or special schedule that Keystone Service has set for severe weather or other service disruptions.

In an email sent to Amtrak employees earlier this week, the company’s senior vice present and chief operating officer, Stephen Gardner, said the carrier has instituted “aggressive measures to cut costs.”

Gardner said future bookings are down 50 percent compared with a year ago and cancellations are up more than 300 percent.

Amtrak plans to implement a voluntary leave program for “non-mission critical employees” willing to take unpaid time off.

The passenger carrier has also said it is waiving change fees for all trip reservations made before April 30.

It is not just Amtrak that has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreaks. Airlines have reported drops in bookings and are canceling flights.

Also hit hard has been public transportation. Northestar Research Partners said a poll it conducted found that Americans are switching their travel habits from public transit to either staying home or relying more on cars to get around.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 48 percent indicated a belief that riding public transit poses a high health risk due to the virus, and 30 percent to 40 percent said they have reduced their use of public transportation.

“People’s movement away from public transit is likely to have long-term consequences,” said Jennifer Yellin, senior vice president and co-lead of Northstar’s transportation practice.

“The implications include lost revenue for public transit authorities, which is ultimately used to upgrade and maintain systems.”

Public transit systems have stepped up cleaning of their rail cars and buses as well as stations.

Amtrak said it will disinfect trains and stations multiple times a day, and, in some cases, on an hourly basis.

Amtrak Still Operating Most Trains

March 12, 2020

Amtrak said this week that it will continue operating the bulk of its trains but is taking precautions to guard against coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The carrier said that includes increasing the cleaning of trains and stations, and stocking up on additional quantities of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to be made available for passengers and employees.

Amtrak said it has waived change fees travel on bookings made through April 30.

Thus far the only trains that Amtrak has suspended are three Acela Express trains between New York and Washington.

In a notice posted on its website and sent out via an email blast, Amtrak said it continues to monitor the virus and is taking the advice of health experts.

Amtrak IG Warns Carrier at Risk of Missing May 2021 Objective to Start Using New Alstom Acela Train Sets

January 25, 2020

Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General said this week the passenger carrier is in danger of missing its stated goal of putting into revenue service in May 2021 new equipment for its Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor.

That could mean lost revenue because the new train sets Amtrak has purchased and are still being built will have 82 more seats than the original equipment now used in Acela Express service.

“The Acela 21 program is entering a critical stage if it is to begin revenue service on time,” the report concluded.

Although the IG found the program has used “some sound program management practices” there are management and structural weaknesses that continue to pose significant risks.

“Foremost is that project delays have eliminated any cushion in the schedule, and multiple indicators point to further delays beyond the planned service launch in 2021,” the report said.

The report came on the heels of the Federal Railroad Administration giving approval to Amtrak to move one train set from the factory in Hornell, New York, where it was built, to an FRA test site in Colorado.

Amtrak also released a video showing the train set, which was built by Alstom, getting underway on its trip to the test track.

Alstom is building 28 train sets for Acela service. The train sets have cost $2.1 billion.

Amtrak assistant IG Jim Morrison wrote in his report that it is likely that Amtrak will not meet its 2021 target date for putting the new high-speed equipment into service.

The IG report said Amtrak has not upgraded maintenance facilities or information technology systems to handle the new train.

Training of the 1,000 maintenance and onboard personnel on the nuts and bolts operations of the new equipment has yet to get underway.

The original plan had been for Alstom to deliver to Amtrak as many as nine train sets in 2021, but that timetable is in doubt.

Amtrak plans to remove one existing Acela train set from service each time a new train set is ready to run.

In order for Amtrak to meet its 2021 objective, the testing of the first train set must be flawless and construction of remaining equipment must be without significant delays.

The IG report recommended Amtrak have managers working on the Acela 21 be given the property authority to focus on and finish the project.

This includes creating contingency plans for what the passenger carrier will do if it misses its target service and deliveries falls further behind schedule.

The report was based on interviews with Amtrak managers in late 2019 and early 2020.

It noted that many of the delays were beyond the control of Amtrak. These included delays that occurred during the manufacturing process.

Amtrak agreed with the five elements the IG identified, including employee training, development of IT services, and modifications to service and inspection facilities.

However, Amtrak said it believes it has a strong management structure in place to oversee execution and delivery of the project.

“There remains an extraordinary amount of work ahead and Amtrak management is confident that the proper resources are aligned to deliver this ambitious program on scope, schedule and budget,” Amtrak wrote in its response to the report.

The contract with Alstom was approved by Amtrak’s board of directors in 2016.

Amtrak said in the video of the first new Alstom train set that it will be moved to the test track near Pueblo, Colorado, in mid-February.

Amtrak Says Acela Project Boosts Economy

December 10, 2019

In a ceremony in the Chicago area, Amtrak claimed that its partnership with Alstom to build train sets for Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor is helping boost the nation’s economy.

Company officials made those comments at the event held at LB Steel LLC in Harvey, Illinois.

Executives of Amtrak and Alstom thanked the workers at the plant for their role in building the wheel assemblies and other components used in the Acela equipment.

Alstom is building 28 Acela train sets at its assembly plant in Hornell, New York.

Component parts are shipped to Hornell from almost 250 suppliers in 27 states.

About 95 percent of the components used to assemble the Acela train sets are created in the United States.

Amtrak officials said more than 1,300 new jobs will be generated in nearly 90 communities. Other suppliers of components for the new Acela train sets include ABB Power Transformers of Virginia; Bode Doors, South Carolina; Centum Adetel Transportation Solution, Wisconsin; Eaton, Michigan; Wabtec Faiveley Doors, New York; Gessman, Connecticut; Hoppecke, New Jersey; Kelox IRT USA, Pennsylvania; Knorr Brake, Maryland; Merrill Technologies, Michigan; Seisenbacher Rail Interiors Inc., New York; Thermo King, Nebraska; Transitair Systems, New York; UTC, Pennsylvania; Voith Couplers, Pennsylvania; and Wabtec Corp., South Carolina and Maryland.

The new equipment is expected to enter revenue service in 2021.

New Acela Equipment Poses in Hornell

November 16, 2019

The new equipment that Amtrak plans to put into service on its Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor posed for a photographer this past week.

The equipment is being built by French company Alstom in Hornell, New York, and one of the train sets was rolled out of the shop as shown above.

The new equipment is expected to begin revenue service in 2021 and will replace equipment that itself was a replacement when it began service nearly 20 years ago.

That equipment, which some have dubbed “The Fast Pig” replaced Metroliner cars built by Budd originally for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Metroliners operated in the NEC for about 30 years.

The equipment being built in Hornell is billed as lighter, sleeker and faster than what it will replace.