In five years, we might get the same trains that Europe had in the 1980s. - Grist


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In five years, we might get the same trains that Europe had in the 1980s.

Vice President Joe Biden (call him “Amtrak Joe“) and Anthony Coscia, Amtrak’s chair, announced late last week that the feds are loaning Amtrak $2.5 billion to buy swanky new higher-speed trains to run along the Northeast Corridor, the lucrative train route that connects Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The trains should roll out in 2021.

Are the new trains cool? Well, they look like friendly, techno-loving millipedes, and they have the soundtrack to prove it.

Amtrak is partnering with Alstom, the folks behind France’s high-speed TGV (“Train à Grande Vitesse”), to build the 28 trains in upstate New York. They will be able to tilt hard into curves, allowing them to move faster (160 mph) than the Acela trains running on the Northeast Corridor (135 mph). They’re also supposed to be 30 percent lighter, which means a cheaper fuel bill.

The current Acela trains are heavy because the Federal Railroad Administration forced Amtrak to make them twice as heavy as their European counterparts, thinking that would make them more crash-resistant. But it’s part of the reason Acela trains have had braking troubles.

It may feel like all the other countries already have trains that can top 200 mph, but we are going to make it to the future one of these days. Consider this a start.