Hornell Alstom plant at the center of new Amtrak plans
HORNELL, N.Y. (CBS) -- Amtrak plans to replace its popular Acela trains in 2021. The new trains will hold more people, travel faster, and have improved safety features.
Inside a factory in Western New York, the future of America's high-speed rail is starting to take shape in the same spot where trains have been serviced, built and rehabbed since the 1850s. They start as a shell before some of the 800 who work in the Hornell, New York plant build them into the trains that'll replace Amtrak's aging first generation high-speed rail effort - the Acela.
Former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson now runs Amtrak. According to Anderson, the new Acela is incredibly important to the future of Amtrak. Anderson says "It really lays out a clear vision for what short haul, inter-city passenger rail transportation can do for this country."
The updated Acela trains are faster. They'll hold about 380 people, that's 25% more passengers than the old ones and are designed to tilt as they take turns allowing them to go faster. Amtrak's most lucrative corridor linking Boston, New York and DC will see a cut in travel time by at least 15 minutes.
Anderson says "We've got to position Amtrak to have a modern product that a millennial wants to get on with high-speed WiFi, craft beers and reliable schedules that beat busses, cars and airplanes."
The new model meets new stronger crash worthiness standards and is designed not to jackknife, guarding against the kind of derailment that killed 8 people when Amtrak 188 took a turn too fast near Philadelphia in 2015.
On the inside, faster WiFi, USB charging in each seat, reading lights, and winged headrests so no one can fall asleep on your shoulder.
There will be more trains in the next generation, allowing Amtrak to add additional service in the Northeast. Amtrak is also trying to figure out how to add high-speed service to other parts of the country.