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$2.4 billion upgrade aimed at making Acela speedier, able to handle more people

The Boston Business Journal reports Amtrak hopes to have the new trains barreling down the tracks by 2021, which is roughly when the T hopes to have the new Red and Orange Line trains mostly on the tracks.

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...that Acela to NYC will still be more expensive than flying after all of this.

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If you get tix a couple weeks+ in advance, the train is $100-$200 cheaper rt. For "Day of" or "Tomorrow" travel it's more like $1000 cheaper.

*And* it goes from downtown to downtown - no taxi from the airports.

The train is almost always a better deal for travel within nodes of the Northeast megalopolis.

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A you say, it's cheaper. They know they are competing with the airlines. It might not be cheaper than driving, taking the bus, or the Northeast Regional (which isn't much slower) but it's cheaper than flying.

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Boston to LGA on American, 9/27-9/30. Leaving Boston at 8am, leaving LGA at 8am. $229 round trip. On Acela Express, leaving the same date, same time, returning on same date, same tim, $250. Those are 3hr, 40min train trips, 1hr, 10min flights. Obviously you have to get to the airport earlier, and the ride from LGA to midtown is another 25-45 mins depending on traffic, but the train is definitely not significantly cheaper, and often times it's more expensive.

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Want to bring more than a carry-on bag? Want to have some flexibility to change or cancel your itinerary, as business travelers are wont to do?

That'll cost you on American. Won't cost you a dime on the train.

And try getting that $229 fare on a last-minute trip.

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He said booking a couple weeks in advance, the train was $100-200 cheaper, and it isn't. It's more expensive. If you really want to check a bag to LGA, yes, it would be another $50. so $279 for a sub-2 hour trip or $250 for close to 4 hours.

PS- Amtrak now requires you cancel more than 48hrs from time of your trip or you get charged a 20% cancellation fee. Not the great deal it used to be.

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Leaving TOMORROW (Wednesday) at 9am, going from Boston to NYC:

JetBlue, 9:12am flight. $75! (Or $125 with two bags)
Amtrak, 9:10am train. $198!

Amtrak has a few trains at $99 but they will still take 4 hours longer then the flight. Even if you factor in some bags, the price difference isn't worth it.

Face it: Amtrak isn't competitive on price. There are valid reasons to take the train but the idea of saving money isn't one of them. South Station to outside Penn Station NYC via bus is going to take abut the same time and $40. A flight can often be found for the same or 1/2 price of the train.

That said, the train is the most comfortable. But not quickest or cheapest.

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There is no 9:12 flight tomorrow, and other flights are nowhere near $75.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/JivWmYJ.png)

The $99 Regional train takes just over four hours total, not four hours longer than the flight. And I can show up five minutes before the train leaves, take whatever I want on board, and not face the possibility of being groped (I mean patted down) before boarding. If I'm going from downtown Boston to midtown or lower Manhattan, the train, even the Regional, becomes very competitive time-wise. I'd much rather spend four hours on one train than 10-30 mins in a cab or on the T to Logan, however long the TSA line takes, waiting at the gate, then the flight itself, and then a cab or NY subway to Manhattan.

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I tested the train versus plane from JP to NYC. I only used public transportation (no cab from JFK, how much does that cost?) Both trips took about five hours. It was kind of amazing how close the time was.

But, for the train I took the subway, train, subway. Done. Airplane was subway, bus, plane, commuter rail, subway. I was well frazzled by the end of that.

Over all the train trip is almost always a better experience if you are going into NYC and don't have a driver to get you to and from the airports (which is often the case for business travelers).

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This argument about which is cheaper is foolish. They're simply different services, and they appeal to different travelers.

Price is one difference. Time is another, location of boarding and alighting another, time spent laptop-out vs. no-laptop-out is yet another, comfort, yadda yadda.

The Acela is full during rush hours. That means that capacity expansion (more runs during these times and/or more seats on existing trains) would allow for more passengers. So that's what they're doing, and it doesn't matter if a particular ticket at a particular time bought a particular number of days in advance is more or less expensive than a specific flight because you're still comparing apples and pineapples.

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Tech Model RailRoad Cambridge on the North side of Massachusetts Avenue corner of Front Street a short block from Windsor St http://tmrc.mit.edu/

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The article didn't mention track improvements. There are parts of the trip down in RI/Eastern Connecticut where Acela inches along. You'd figure a 215 mile trip (Bos-NYC) would take 2 hours when Acela mentions currently it's 150 mph normal maximum speed. Right now the trip takes 3:40, which is too slow.

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Right now, Acela reaches that only on a short (10 miles?) stretch of track between Boston and Providence.

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In Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Most of the service outside of those zones is 125 MPH, including most of Rhode Island and Connecticut, east of New Haven. The inching along comes once it enters the busy Metro North territory.

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The stretches of the Shore Line with very low speeds will always have very slow speeds, unless you want to tunnel the whole thing to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

And the $2.4 billion does include track improvements, just not in New England. Remember, the Northeast Corridor was rebuilt from scratch less than 20 years ago from New Haven to Boston. Some parts south of NYC are 100+ years old, and it shows.

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Why not construct modern elevated concrete viaducts instead of tunneling in those areas?

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Because the CT shoreline is so densely developed that they'd have to demolish thousands of houses to do that, and many of those quaint, tourism-dependent towns would have a conniption at the idea of an elevated concrete viaduct running right through the middle. Just look at Lyme's response to NEC Future's idea of a new viaduct east of Old Saybrook.

Then there's the rivers. Having bridges tall enough to clear all the navigable channels without needing new movable spans would require approaches several miles long, mostly through the middle of centuries-old towns. That sounds like a nightmare to try and build. Tunnels solve this problem, because they don't have to be nearly as deep and have minimal impacts on shore at each end.

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The whole point of the Acela tilting mechanism was to allow higher speeds on old curvy tracks.

Until they built the trains 4 inches too wide, and Metro North wouldn't allow them to tilt west of New Haven.

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Metro-North removed the tilt restriction last year. So that's a non-issue.

And the Acelas' tilting mechanisms DO allow higher speeds on old, curvy tracks. There's just only so fast you can go around a curve, even tilting. Tilt generally buys 5-15 more mph out of each curve (e.g. 30 instead of 25, 70 instead of 60, 125 instead of 110). But beyond that the g-forces become too much for passenger comfort, and it's a lot harder to keep the train on the rails.

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New Acela trainset somehow derails and get stuck in Storrow underpass.

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provided no one was hurt, because this would imply that we somehow have N/S train movements through Boston (in that case, probably via Grand Junction).

I'll shill for Amtrak for a moment (because they're right):

It's time to build (and has been since interest rates hit all-time lows).

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I thought they needed the increased capacity in south station before they could do significant Acela improvements? Or are they just going to be running faster trains but not more of them??

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As increases in commuter-rail traffic. Think of the frequent DMUs the state is going to be running on the Fairmount Line (not in our lifetimes, of course, but maybe in our grandchildren's). But, yes, if Amtrak is thinking of increasing the number of Acela trips, that would play into the calculations.

All of which could be solved by either throwing enough money at the Postal Service to get it to move out to make room for more tracks or digging a tunnel to North Station ...

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In Japan, they can turn an intercity train in 7 minutes. We should look into adopting those practices before we break the bank building more station tracks.

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[citation needed]

7 minutes is not enough time to walk through the train emptying trash cans, restocking/cleaning bathrooms, and restocking the cafe car. Even if Japan manages to turn a train in 7 minutes, there is no way it could work here.

7 minutes is debatably not even enough time for a whole train-load of people to exit the train, then a new train-load to enter.

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faster and more time-reliable is for Amtrak to take over ownership of the railroad between New Haven and New Rochelle from Metro North. This is presently the weak link in Acela Service between Boston and NYC, especially when Metro-North's slow commuter trains have priority over the faster Acela.

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Despite being a federally-owned corporation, Amtrak does not have the ability to seize an asset owned by a state. I agree that it would be better, but you can't blame Amtrak for that situation, since I'm sure they would love to get their hands on it if they could.

Also, the argument that Amtrak should own it kinda falls apart when you recognize that Metro-North carries more passengers annually on just New Haven Line trains than Amtrak carries nationwide. Metro-North passengers FAR outnumber Amtrak passengers. Meaning in terms of minimizing delay-minutes-per-passenger, Metro-North ought to have priority. Frankly, Amtrak is lucky that Metro-North is required to accommodate them, and it would probably be in both railroads' best interests if Amtrak somehow acquired its own route from NYP to NHV (which opens a whole other can of worms).

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I don't care how much a flight costs. Regular Amtrak is way too expensive, and Acela is out of control. And their combined schedule is far too infrequent for this important a route.

If trains continue to cost upwards of $100 one-way to NYC, and run every hour or two, they're never going to have the modal share they deserve.

In Europe, a trip like this would cost about $50 for true high-speed rail. And it would run every 15 minutes.

Amtrak taking out the biggest loan in its history, in order to throw away the current Acela fleet and run more Acelas by cutting some regular trains, will only make this worse.

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Trains do not cost upwards of $100 one-way to NYC. Regional fares start at $52.

Even booking same day, I can find 5 trains this afternoon for $99 one-way. Tomorrow there are even two for only $76.

And I feel like I've gone through and outlined the schedule before on here... to a post sounding eerily similar to this one. Oh, that's right, I did!.

After noon, the average gap between Amtrak trains is 49 minutes. Morning service I believe is even more frequent, but I'm not going to bother doing this math again.
How is that "far too infrequent"?

Finally, Amtrak is not "throwing away" the current Acela fleet. Nor are they cutting any "regular" trains. The current Acelas will live on in some as-yet-undetermined capacity (though even if they were retired in 2021, it wouldn't be as bad as you imply, given that they'd have been in service for 20 years, having run millions of miles every day, which takes its toll! Especially on a high speed trainset which is much more mechanically complicated (e.g. tilt) than regular old Amfleet coaches), and nowhere has Amtrak ever proposed reducing Regional service.

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Thalys tomorrow morning, which makes it competitive with the Acela price wise.

The new fleet is trying to deal with both comfort and speed. That should help on the modal share.

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That should help on the modal share.

Not that Amtrak's modal share really needs help! Amtrak's non-automobile modal share between New York and Washington is approximately 75%. And it's 54% between New York and Boston.

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But it could be higher, I guess.

Honestly, I didn't want to track down the figures for modal share, so I just conceded that everyone flies.

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One other consideration is that some of you are comparing coach air fare to Acela which is only business class and first class fares.

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