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If you’ve been on an Amtrak trip recently in the Northeast or the Midwest, chances are you sat in an Amfleet coach. These coaches, which form the backbone of the Amtrak passenger cars, have been serving customer since the 70s, and it’s starting to show. The seats are perfectly adequate for a short trip, but longer stints tend to get uncomfortable and the bathrooms and bulkheads are showing their age. Luckily, Amtrak has a plan to bring their Amfleet cars into the 21st century. Earlier this fall, Amtrak announced that they would be updating the over 450 cars that make up the Amfleet type.

(READ MORE: Amtrak Boston to NYC Review)

Updated Coach Class seats. Courtesy of Amtrak.

Upcoming Changes

Per Amtrak, we can expect the following components of the Amfleet to be updated:

  • Brand-new seat cushions
  • New carpeting
  • New LED reading lights
  • New bathroom flooring
  • Upgraded wainscoting and bulkhead
  • New curtains in Business Class cars
  • Redesigned galleys in the café cars

These improvements come at a cost of $16,000,000. Additionally, these changes should take about nine months to complete, so all 450 cars should be finished by June of 2018, barring any unforeseen circumstances. A more detailed breakout of the timeline indicates when we’ll see changes to the Business Class cars, the Coach Class cars, and the Cafe cars:

  • Fall 2017: Installation of Business Class carpets and cushions, Coach Class carpets and cushions, LED lighting, upgraded restrooms.
  • Winter 2017: Continued installation of carpets, cushions, and LED lighting. First installations of Business Class curtains, refreshed wainscoting and bulkhead, and refreshed café cars.
  • Summer 2018: Final installations of all items.

Updated Amfleet Business Class car. Image courtesy of Amtrak.

Who Benefits?

If you’re a frequent rider on twelve lines in the Northeast and Midwest, you’re in luck! According to Amtrak, we’ll see these retrofitted cars on the following routes:

  • Northeast Regional (including trains to Springfield and Springfield Shuttles)
  • Vermonter
  • Downeaster
  • Empire Service
  • Maple Leaf
  • Adirondack
  • Ethan Allen Express
  • Keystone
  • Pennsylvanian
  • Carolinian
  • Illinois Service
  • Hiawatha
  • Missouri River Runner
  • Michigan Services

I’m really excited about this, as I am take about ~25 trips a year on many of the above routes.

Conclusion

It’s great to see Amtrak investing in their hard product, as most of these coaches last saw renovations when Bill Clinton was president. I’m excited to see them in the real world and report back on how they hold up to the rigors of the Northeast Corridor.

Let us know if you’ve seen these new interiors and how you felt about them!

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