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Running between Washington, D.C. and Boston, Amtrak has two options: the normal Northeast Regional and the “High-Speed” Acela. First introduced in 2000, the trains are starting to show their age. While Amtrak has plans to introduce a new train on the Acela route in the next five years or so, as a stopgap measure, they are refitting the interior of the 100 Acela coaches.

(READ MORE: Amtrak NYC to Boston Review)

“Customers expect a premium experience when they board an Acela Express train, and these updated interior features will provide a more comfortable, refreshed look and feel – whether you want to relax, move about freely, work or play,” said Amtrak CEO and President Richard Anderson.

Refreshed Amtrak Acela Express First Class seats. As you can see, the frames of the seats are unchanged, but the seats themselves are getting some TLC. Image courtesy of Amtrak Media Relations.

Upcoming Changes

The Acela Express refresh is a 10-month program for all of its 20 trainsets, which includes 6,080 total seats.  Each trainset will be refreshed individually with new cushions and covers for all business class and first-class seats, new carpet for the aisle runner, and a deep clean. The refresh will take less than a year to complete and customers can expect a progression of upgrades during that time, with this approximate delivery schedule:

  • May 2018: The first trainset will be refreshed and returned into revenue service;
  • June 2018: The second trainset will be refreshed and returned into revenue service
  • June 2018 – March 2019: Two trainsets refreshed per month.

Amtrak is investing roughly $4,000,000 in this process, which should help tide over passengers until the introduction of the new Amtrak trainsets in ~2022.

Amtrak Acela Express refreshed First Class. Image courtesy of Amtrak Media Relations.

Materials from the existing Acela cushions and covers will be reused, recycled and turned into carpet padding, while the leather will be upcycled and converted into handbags, wallets and other consumer goods.

Who Benefits?

If you’re an Amtrak user in the Northeast along the Boston-New York City-Washington corridor, you’ll see these changes rolled out. While this is a smaller pool of users than the most recent Amtrak refresh of their Amfleet cars, it’s better than letting these trainsets continue to age until they are replaced.

Updated seat cushions in the refreshed Amtrak Acela Express trainsets. Image courtesy of Amtrak Media Relations.

Updated carpeting on the Amtrak Acela Express trainsets. Image courtesy of Amtrak Media relations.

Conclusion

It’s great to see Amtrak investing in their Acela Express hard product, as most of these coaches were introduced almost 20 years ago! 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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