French firm Alstom lands big US deal for high-speed trains
US rail operator Amtrak has awarded a US$2 billion deal to French manufacturer Alstom to supply new trains for its key Acela service between Washington, New York and Boston.
The landmark deal for 28 new passenger trains will boost Amtrak’s speed and capacity along its most heavily used and profitable route, with more than 3.5 million passengers a year, from 2021.
The trains will carry more than 400 passengers, about one-third more than the existing Acela northeastern corridor express service, with a maximum speed of 300 kilometres (180 miles) per hour, though normal speeds will hover near 260 kph.
In the deal, Alstom, which makes France’s famed TGV trains, agreed to manufacture most of the new equipment for Amtrak at its plant in Hornell, New York.
The new trains, which will also serve Baltimore, Philadelphia and other key cities on the 730km (453mile) route, will be able to run faster than current trains in part due to the use of Alstom’s Tiltronix system allowing the trains to lean more deeply into curves, avoiding sharp slowdowns.
Amtrak and Alstom said prototypes for the new trains will be ready in 2019, and enter commercial service two years later.
Jerome Wallut (second left), president of Alstom Transportation Inc, poses with a scale model after an event to unveil a new high-speed train at Amtrak’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr Station in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 26.