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What's your experience riding Amtrak's Acela?

Amtrak's Acela Express is celebrating its tenth anniversary Saturday. In fiscal 2010, the service carried 3.2 million passengers at an average of 72 percent capacity on peak segments. And new plans are in the works for the future of high speed rail.

By Ryan Kellett  |  December 10, 2010; 6:57 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Every time I've ridden the train up the Northeast Corridor - almost each trip on an Acela - it's been great. Not having to check luggage or go through security, ending up right in the middle of NYC or Philadelphia, no delays to speak of - it's fantastic when done right.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | December 11, 2010 12:40 AM

The service is excellent but is it worth the cost? It is hugely subsidized by the taxpayers. If it shut down today, no one would know the difference.

Posted by: MrBethesda | December 11, 2010 12:57 AM

Acela is a joke. 25 years ago, the Metroliner service went from Washington to NY in 2 hrs, 49 mins, and the service was reliable. There was even an express (no stops whatsoever) that made the NY-Washington trip in 2 hrs, 30 minutes! Now many billions of Dollars later, Acela can only equal the record of the Metroliner, which was developed in the 1960s by the bankrupt Penn Central! The improvement of service to Boston is the primarily the result of electrification north of New Haven, and improved track beds. It is only with an ignorance of history that the Acela could be claimed a success.

Posted by: WashPostReaderNY | December 11, 2010 4:07 AM

I love Train travel- more freedom than air travel and for the Northeast it gets you there as fast if not faster than a plane if you include TSA, airports not in town, luggage etc. To Mr. Bethesda - last I checked - roads, airports and airlines are pretty heavily subsidized as well. How many billions are spent there every year?

Posted by: Stevida | December 11, 2010 7:15 AM

I am a regular user of the Acela express on the DC-NYC route. I think it's fantastic, much easier and less stressful than flying and certainly better than driving (which I mistakenly did only once when I had to take along a bunch of equipment.) Considering the airport hassles and delays getting from the airport to downtown NYC, there is no contest between flying and taking the Acela. As for high speed train transportation in general, I think it's a good investment. In Europe, passenger rail is much more advanced and more regularly used than in the U.S. I found that trains in European countries are well supported because they are frequent, clean, comfortable and on time. If we could generate that level of service along frequently traveled routes, I believe the system could be built in the U.S. that would provide an alternative to air transportation. I don't believe it's practical for long-distances as it could never compete with air travel for that type of service. But intra-city routes could become very popular. For example, DC-Charolotte, DC-Pittsburg/Cleveland/Chicago, and the existing DC-NYC/Boston routes would probably be well used, but only if the service can be clean, comfortable and run on time like train transportation is in Europe.

Posted by: dlpetersdc | December 11, 2010 8:43 AM

I'm always reminded of the decision of Pope Gregory XVI to prevent the construction of railways in the Papal States on the Italian peninsula during the 19th century. He was reputed to have said "chemin de fer, chemin d'enfer" ("the iron road, the road to hell").

Posted by: critter69 | December 11, 2010 1:43 PM

Acela, for all its subsidies, is very expensive, hence, not available to a majority of people.
It is, though, a grand ride -- quiet, roomy, convenient.

Posted by: sbuck | December 14, 2010 11:59 AM

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