Amtrak to increase speed on Acela line in Garden State

Significant milestone will improve reliability for customers across Northeast Corridor

Want to travel faster than a speeding bullet on an Acela?

Now, a 16-mile segment of track between New Brunswick and South Brunswick will be able to accommodate speeds of up to 150 mph, according to a Tuesday announcement from Amtrak. These speeds are the fastest of any train in North America and match top speeds in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Amtrak says the recent infrastructure improvements to the Acela line — which travels exclusively on the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston — are part of a New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement Program and a $450 million investment by the U.S. Department of Transportation. They are the first of many speed upgrades anticipated in the NEC that lays the framework for future trip time reduction and improves the reliability of intercity and commuter services on one of the most heavily used sections of the NEC.

The upgrades will also allow the new Acela trains to achieve speeds of 160 mph when introduced in fall 2023, further solidifying the NEC as a high-speed rail corridor and allowing Amtrak to further reduce trip time in the years ahead.

“The upgrades coming from the New Jersey High-Speed Rail Improvement Program exemplify our continual commitment to upgrade the Northeast Corridor and transform the customer experience as we welcome more passengers back on board,” Amtrak CEO and President Stephen Gardner said. “Thanks to the hard work by Amtrak’s Infrastructure Maintenance & Construction Services Team and our DOT and commuter partners, our customers will experience more reliable and faster trains and better on-time performance on this busy section of the NEC.”

The completed scope included installation of new signal power cables, new catenary (overhead wire) supports and wire renewal, installation of high-speed turnouts and renewed power substations. An additional eight miles of catenary between South Brunswick and Trenton are also currently being upgraded, with completion and speed increases expected in 2024.

Amtrak has restored more Acela service to its schedule, with 10 daily round-trip trains between New York and Washington, and nine round-trip trains operating between Boston and New York, providing improved schedule utility and more frequency for customers.

Being able to easily travel from/to city centers, Acela offers competitive trip times with fewer stops, free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets, large spacious seats with ample leg room and no middle seat.