Amtrak is conducting high-speed rail tests with its Acela trains in the northeastern United States this week, with hopes of offering regular service of 160 mph (257 km/h) in the near future.
The initial test run was launched Monday night in New Jersey “where Amtrak is presently advancing design, engineering and other pre-construction activities for a $450 million project funded by the federal high-speed rail program,” according to a press release issued by the rail operator.
Amtrak is running the high speed test trains at 165 mph (265 km/h) in four routes covering more than 100 miles in Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland.
Amtrak says the test runs are being performed to “measure the interaction between the train and the track, rider quality and other safety factors.”
In the 46 states, Washington, DC and the three Canadian Provinces where Amtrak currently has routes, trains travel between 135 mph (217 km/h) to 150 mph (241 km/h. In contrast, trains in countries such as Spain and France operate at speeds up to 200 mph (320km/h) and the Shanghai Maglev Train in China can reach speeds of up to 268 mph (431 km/h).
The high-speed rail tests, which will continue into next week, are part of Amtrak’s ongoing efforts to expand its capacity of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network. The company says it would like to provide more trains that operate at higher speeds, especially between Washington, DC and New York where ridership has increased dramatically over the past five years.
In the future, Amtrak would also like to develop the next generation high-speed rail (NextGen HSR), which will have trains that travel up to 220 mph (354 km/h).
“The NEC region is America’s economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-modal transportation network that routinely operates at or near capacity in key segments. With an expected 30 percent population increase by 2050, we must move beyond mere preservation and rehabilitation of the current system to a new vision for expanded transportation capacity and growth,” said Amtrak president Joe Boardman.