The First High-Speed Rail in the US


At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
  • Project Location(s)
  • Boston, Washington DC
LTK-designed railcarHelping Amtrak find a swift solution to high speed transit. 

Amtrak wanted to move into the era of high-speed rail in its top performing area – the Northeast Corridor from Washington DC to Boston. However, it needed trainsets that could run on existing track intermixed with non-high-speed intercity trains, commuter trains and freight trains. The resulting Acela Express Trainsets offer a top speed of 150 mph and are equipped with tilt systems for improved comfort during high-speed operation through curves. The fleet consists of 20 trainsets, comprising 40 power cars, 120 trailer cars of four types, and one high-speed track geometry car.

LTK assisted Amtrak through all phases of the procurement, from conceptual engineering and specification development to vehicle commis­sioning and entry into revenue service, and also assisted Amtrak in the procurement of three dedicated maintenance facilities. LTK conducted extensive discussions with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) about safety and incorporated the resulting recommendations into the technical requirements. These discussions formed the basis of FRA’s subsequent requirements for high-speed rail vehicles. LTK provided extensive technical support for proof-of-design testing activities conducted at TTCI in Pueblo, CO and on the NEC.

America’s first high-speed train debuted on December 11, 2000 and is still Amtrak’s highest ridership service. It often sells out at peak travel times; those 20 trainsets accounted for 25% of Amtrak’s ticket sales in FY2016.

LTK Capabilities Used on This Project