AMTRAK 165 m.p.h.

I think and know this is awesome! Remember the Euros are working with KPH. So we are going 225 kph.! roughly. Whatever, it is fast enough to cut the travel time substantially. Yes, others are faster. Few are running in a populated corridor like the NEC. Remember in Europe 150 m.p.h. gets you across the country in an hour. (state)

9 Replies

  • I certainly don't like the new format of this blog.  I can't see my earlier comment.  In any event, this is a great step in the right direction for Amtrak.

    Actually 165 mph equates to closer to 265 km/h.  But the 165 mph likely represents a test of 10% over the target operating speed of 150 mph; 240 km/h.  The other point worth mentioning here is related to typical operating speeds in many places in Europe.  While many of those systems are designed for operating speeds of 300 km/h and higher, many operate at more modest speeds of between 240-270 km/h.  The train schedules appear to be based on the more modest operating speeds.  An express train operating at speeds above 200 km/h in a congested corridor should provide consistently better commute times than any rubber-tired on congested roadway alternative; and more consistent commutes than short haul flights in the same corridor.  Great job Amtrak!

  • In reply to Blaine Peterson:

    Interesting, but of doubtful significance - the UA turbotrain which holds the record for a production rail vehicle in North America, did 170.8 mph in 1967, the original MU Metroliners hit 164 in 1968.  The strange part is the Acela reached 168 mph in 1999, so why is this news?  Could it be that this was a publicity stunt?  Perish the thought.

    The reality is that there was never any doubt the Acela could reach 168 mph - the hard part is reaching that speed every day and reaching it on significant lengths of line.  

  • In reply to JohnS:

    Wow, steam engines were going 100 m.p.h. in the 1930s. Govt regs and "deregs" made railroads non competetive to trucks on the Interstate highway System. The Canadian train went 360 kph 10 years ago. First U-tube I ever saw. We ar not talking about making the G book of world records.

  • In reply to Systemsnut:


    I completely agree with your negative comment concerning this new format. I'm not trying to sit in judgement against the Progressive Railroading staff, mind you; I have no idea how difficult it might be to keep this service in operation and I greatly appreciate its existence. Still...

    Insofar as Amtrak's sacred cow - the much vaunted N.E.C. - is concerned:

    In the past, I have outlined a few of the same things which both Systemsnut and JohnS mentioned, including the amount of effort it seems to require of Amtrak just to re-reach the speed plateau our private railroads attained generations ago.

    In addition, I find it difficult to celebrate Amtrak's achievement when it is currently impossible to ride a regularly scheduled passenger train of ANY kind at ANY speed between (for example) Dallas and Houston!

    Of course, I've suggested ways around that, too.

    Oh, well. Amtrak  is far too busy perpetuating the Great Lie (simply put, that federal operating support is only necessary for the routes and services OUTSIDE the N.E.C.) to advocate expansion of their national network.

    Amtrak is like a homeowner whose house has adequate plumbing, but suffers from substandard wiring, a leaky roof and major foundation problems. After securing a bank loan, the owner ignores his jury-rigged electrical system, ceiling stains and cracking walls...and installs a Jacuzzi his master bath.


  • In reply to Garl B. Latham:

    Spoken like a true Texan. Show me proof you can get one other texan out of his pick-up and onto a train. Why would they spend good money connecting those two little hick towns? The destination now is Arlington, not Dallas.

  • In reply to Systemsnut:

    In answer to Systemsnut, I can only guess that a few Texans do board the Eagle and Sunset for intra-state travel, the Heartland Flyer From Fort Worth to Oklahoma City that is smaller than either Austin or San Antonio, and more on the Trinity Rail Express and DART.  Why more don't take the train is understandable with the time of day, limited utility, and slow schedules of the Eagle and Sunset.

    Dallas and Fort Worth are not irrelevant despite how much Irving may have risen in prominence.  Irving, on the Eagle route, could be reached notwithstanding the problematic Fort Worth stations and past, if not ongoing, political opposition to public transit.

    I will reiterate something I posted recently in another discussion:  the gas-turbine powered United Aircraft Turbo Train attaining 170.8 mph in a test on the NEC in 1967 demonstrated the opportunity for a high-speed service without costly electrification.  Roughly a third of the cost for a high speed line might be saved without electrification; but this may be mitigated by energy issues and the need for freight route electrification.  

    At the time I wondered why the Turbo Train used a number of smaller gas turbines rather than a single large gas turbine like the UP's 8,500 shp GE locomotives.  But the poor operating efficiency at low power demand explains it, much like the genset concept.

    More bang for the buck can be achieved with grade separation for 160 mph trains than for 125 mph which is Amtrak's modest goal for new equipment that could be around for 40 years.  For better or worse, Amtrak has separated itself from non-NEC corridor services so that states can do as they please and without the baggage of Amtrak's rocky relationships with the railroads.  Washington and Oregon bought Talgos for the Cascades, albeit limited by heavy diesel-electric locomotives.  I can understand California getting more bi-levels in the interim; but Illinois and Michigan could use high-speed tilting trains that could continue to give service for decades to come with route improvements and grade separation.

  • In reply to Garl B. Latham:

    Good to see your comments, Garl, this format is very difficult & puzzling.  I am hoping that with the election results, a little time has been bought to rework the structure of Amtrak to make it more compatible with today's needs for major capital (US infrastructure bank), structural integration with the track owners and realistic expectations for profitable operations. I believe there is only 1 Amtrak Board member from west of Buffalo and 1 with significant railroad experience: it should not be another political dumping ground but represent all the major stakeholders, including the passengers. I nominate you, Garl.

  • In reply to oamundsen:

    I was merely trying to appear optimistic about the future of passenger rail in this country.  But the truth has been told here by several. In my mind, the biggest impediment to moving passenger rail forward in this country is related to our insistence to do so on a 19th century designed and built infrastructure.  

  • In reply to Blaine Peterson:

    165-mph is progress. The fact still exists though that this Amtrak speed is only for very short distance on the daily Acela routes. In test form this speed will not be available for normal commute operation for quite some time. International speed standards peg a requirement of sustainable speed at 186-mph average for the total train route beginning to destination end. To eventually reach that standard and faster Amtrak will have to upgrade the NEC with totally separate and high-speed-rail dedicated tracks, which are a higher classification than the current track Acela opperates on. This future project will cost massive money! Dedicated track also has no crossings for vehicular or pedestrian passage of any sort! All road traffic has to be vaulted over in bridge or underpass structures. That would require a huge modification in the track right-of-way Amtrak owns. Where would the money possibly come from? What financial source would invest upwards of 100 billion $ in such a system? The federal government...I don't think so; as passenger revenue would never, ever pay it off! The Feds initial money toss at a non-existant high-speed rail design  program several years back wasn't properly directed anyway! Any takers on a new money toss? I don't hear you! This will all come about through excellent individual city municipal design strategy. Not by national and centralized federal planning with no concept of how it works. With the proper players in place of finance, civil engineering, class 1 railroads and great city design departments, we will see progress. Actually there are a few cities that qualify now! Chicago is the best of the best!

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