Amtrak, America’s national passenger railroad, has been dogged by safety issues and delays in recent years. In the latest setback for the railroad operator, Amtrak’s new high-speed trains have been derailed for another year.
Amtrak plans to roll out faster Acela trains in the Northeast Corridor. The trains were meant to enter service in 2021. Their launch has now been postponed until 2024 at the earliest.
The problem is one that has dogged passenger and freight services alike in recent years; Amtrak’s outdated tracks are not up to the challenge of European-style high-speed trains.
Although the Biden administration has pledged to spend millions of dollars in upgrading aging track, any investment to date is unequal to the challenge posed by the Acela trains, USA TODAY reported.
The new trains designed by Alstom are built to different standards than the previous generation of Acela, according to reports.
“The modeling of the wheel to track interface is particularly complex due to age, condition, and specific characteristics of Amtrak infrastructure on the Northeast corridor, and especially the existing tracks,” an Alstom spokesperson told USA TODAY. Alstom estimates the launch will now take place in 2024.
The high-speed trains pose a safety challenge for America’s creaking rail infrastructure. The Northeast Corridor around New York and Baltimore includes aging bridges and tunnels that may pose a safety hazard to passengers and crew alike. The rail infrastructure dates back 190 years in some areas, the Washington Post reported.
The 28 Avelia Liberty high-speed trains will replace Amtrak’s existing Acela fleet. The new generation of trains is part of a $2.5 billion investment supporting upgrades to passenger service around America’s busiest rail stations. The trains promise better safety, reliability, rider comfort, and capacity.
According to reports, the Avelia Liberty trains have also encountered unforeseen complexities in computer simulation processes and testing required by the Federal Railroad Administration before they can become operational.
Officials recently found an issue in the testing of the train’s wheels, particularly at higher speeds. The modeling of the wheels to the track interface is particularly complex given the age and the infrastructure of the Northeast corridor.
Amtrak recently said “further refinement of analysis, simulations and testing” is needed, which entails delays in the delivery of the trains.
Amtrak has a patchy safety record. In June 2022, an Amtrak train with 282 people on board derailed when it hit a dump truck on a grade crossing in Missouri. Three passengers and the dump truck driver died in the crash. A new safety system, Positive Train Control, was operating at the time of the collision.
In 2015, eight people died and more than 200 were injured in an Amtrak crash in Philadelphia.
The experienced railroad injury attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers have represented passengers who suffered serious injuries in Amtrak crashes. We remain concerned about the safety record of the passenger operator and America’s railroad infrastructure. Please contact us online or call (757) 333-3333 for a free consultation.