"Acela" is a brand applied by Amtrak to its high-speed trains along the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast U.S., called "Acela Express". Prior to 2003, the "Acela Regional" name was applied to most local trains on the corridor, now called "Northeast Regional" to avoid confusion. The "Acela Commuter" name was proposed but never used for the "Clockers", and "Acela Regional" was planned for all trains on the Empire Corridor and Keystone Corridor in addition to the Northeast Corridor. In fiscal year 2006, a total of 2,668,174 passengers rode Acela, an 8.8% year-over-year increase. [ [ Amtrak ridership increases - ] ]


On March 9, 1999, Amtrak unveiled its design for its new high-speed service, and announced that most services in the Northeast would be branded "Acela". The name was a portmanteau of "excellence" and "acceleration", pronounced "ah-cel-la" [ə'sɛlə] (though a great many riders and staff call it "ack-cel-la" [ək'sɛlə] , in keeping with the name's derivation). At that time, there were three classes of trains on the Northeast Corridor (and its extension south to Newport News, Virginia) — the hourly Philadelphia-New York "Clockers", the express "Metroliners", and the umbrella term "NortheastDirect", applied to all other local trains on the corridor (in addition to unique names assigned to each departure). "Empire Service" trains used the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls, and "Keystone Service" ran along the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Other named trains also used the corridors, branching off or continuing beyond their stations.

As announced, the original plan was to rebrand all services but those continuing beyond the termini as "Acela". The "Metroliners" would be replaced with "Acela Express". All "NortheastDirect", "Empire Service" and "Keystone Service" trains would become "Acela Regional". Finally, the "Clockers" would be "Acela Commuter". [Amtrak: News Release - March 9, 1999: [ Amtrak Rolls Out 'Acela' Service, High-speed Trains for Northeast] ]

In practice, the "Acela Regional" name was first applied to "NortheastDirect" trains 130-133 on January 31, 2000. Those trains, 130 and 131 running weekdays only and 132 and 133 running every day, were the first electrified trains to run on the full Northeast Corridor. [Bob Johnston, Amtrak opens Boston electrification, "Trains" April 2000] [Ron Newman, [ Acela Regional starts Jan 31, 2000] , misc.transport.rail.americas January 27, 2000] As more trains were electrified, they too were rebranded.Regular "Acela Express" service began December 11, 2000; at the time there were still part-diesel "NortheastDirect" trains. [Bob Johnston, Acela Express begins; NEC schedules revamped, "Trains" January 2001] On March 17, 2003 the "Acela" name was dropped from the "Acela Regional", with the trains simply being called "Regional". Technical difficulties have led to a joke about Acela standing for "Amtrak Customers Extremely Late Again" trains. [ [ Rail Travel News - News Posting March 23, 2003] ] The "Acela Commuter" service never appeared. It simply remained known as the "Clocker" service up until October 28, 2005, when it was discontinued and New Jersey Transit introduced four new express trains between Trenton, NJ and New York City to make up for the lost service.

Comparison of speed

Although the Acela is marketed as a high speed train, in reality it is not much faster than standard speed service. For example, at an average speed of 86 miles per hour, it is not significantly faster than the Denver Zephyr service that ran at an average speed of 77 mph between Chicago and Denver in the early 1960s.

In comparison, other high speed trains around the world are much faster. Japan's Shinkansen trains average more than 125 mph. France’s high speed TGV trains average 173 mph, Germany’s high speed trains average 153 mph, and South Korea’s averages 125 mph. [ [ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure - U.S. Rep. John L. Mica] ]

The lack of speed is explained primarily by the long-term under funding of rail infrastructure in the US compared with other developed nations, and the lack of political will to upgrade existing train tracks and catenary. High speed rail travel requires both "tilting train" technology for the comfort of passengers and constant-tension catenary to keep the train powered.

Tilting enables passengers to ride comfortably on curved sections of track faster than would otherwise be possible, by leaning into the bend. The technology has been implemented on other service lines such the Virgin Trains Pendolino British Rail Class 390 trains which run at a speed of 125mph (soon upgrading to 140mph) on Britain's Victorian era rail lines. Many segments of track in of the Northeast Corridor south of New York are too close together for the carriages to safely tilt while maintaining FRA minimum space between locomotives on parallel tracks. While the system was originally designed for a 6.8° tilt, the cars were redesigned 4 inches wider to accommodate wider seats and aisles that reduced the tilt to a more modest 4.2° which still fits within the clearance constraints of the existing tracks. [ Inside the Acela] Travelling at 150 mph and higher also requires constant-tension catenary which is only implemented on relatively more modern catenary system north of New York.

If the Acela were upgraded to an average speed of 125mph, the current six and a half hour journey between Boston and Washington, D.C. would be just under four hours and 45 minutes.dubious

External links

* [*/ Amtrak's former "Acela" website] on the Internet Archive (active April 19, 1999 to September 23, 2001, after which it was redirected to [ Amtrak's main website] )
* [ Event announcing Amtrak's Acela service]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • ACELA — urbs Lyciae, ita dicta ab Acelo, Herculis et Malidis, Omphales famulae, filio. Steph …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

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