Written by: Gary Dolzall
America’s fastest train – the Amtrak Acela – is back for Train Simulator in an enhanced edition!
The stylish, fast, and powerful Amtrak Acela has arrived in an enhanced Train Simulator edition! When it comes to the Acela, the superlatives flow readily: It is both America’s fastest train and one of the country’s most successful. Operating over Amtrak’s electrified Northeast Corridor between Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C., at speeds up to 150 mph, the Acela carries more than 3.5 million passengers a year, and, over its decade-and-a-half of regular service, has welcomed aboard more than 43 million travelers!
The name “Acela” was coined by Amtrak as a combination of the words “acceleration” and “excellence,” and the brand was applied to Amtrak’s new sleek trains as they were introduced into service in the year 2000. Developed through a consortium of Bombardier and Alstom and constructed primarily at Bombardier’s Barre (Vermont) facilities, Amtrak’s Acela fleet comprises 20 train sets, each of which include power cars on each end of a six-car consist that includes four business class coaches, a café car, and a first-class carriage. Each business class coach carries 65 passengers while the first-class car accommodates 44 travelers.
Acela’s power cars are fast (geared for and tested at speeds up to 165 mph), big (200,000 pounds), and enormously powerful, with a rating of 6,169-horsepower and a starting tractive effort of 12,375-foot-pounds. The power cars transmit their potency to the rails via three-phase, 4-pole induction asynchronous A. C. traction motors set in a four-axle (B-B) wheel arrangement. To allow the Acela to operate at speed through the Northeast Corridor’s many curves, the passenger cars (but not power cars) are equipped with 6.5-degree tilt capacity, although the tilt feature cannot be used on certain portions of the route (the primary limitation being Metro-North’s ex-New Haven trackage). Between New York City and Washington, D. C., signaling limitations on the ex-Pennsylvania corridor limit the Acela to a top speed of 135 mph.
The remarkable success of Acela, together with Amtrak’s supporting Northeast Regional trains, is perhaps no better illustrated than by the fact that Amtrak now carries more than three times as many riders between Washington, D.C., and New York City as do the airlines, and Amtrak also garners a majority share of commercial travelers between New York and Boston.
During 2016, Amtrak announced long-term plans for its next-generation of high-speed Northeast Corridor trains which will eventually replace the veteran Acela. But retirement of the Acela train sets will not occur until 2022 or later, by which time the stylish speedsters will have successfully served through more than two decades of demanding high-speed passenger service.
In an enhanced edition, which includes improved in-cab signaling features, a passenger view, and authentic tilt feature, Amtrak’s Acela has now returned for Train Simulator. And the landmark trains are ideal and authentic for service both on Train Simulator’s popular NEC: New York – New Haven route and the newly remastered edition of the classic Northeast Corridor (New York – Philadelphia) route. It’s time for some high-speed railroading, Acela-style! – Gary Dolzall ■