I’m not sure that I’ve geeked out on this train thing quite fully enough. I’m no train otaku, but I did look up the details of the Acela’s speeds. It’s actually much faster than I thought, but only operates at its fullest potential in short stretches in the northeast corridor. According to wikipedia,
The highest speed attained by Acela Express is 150 mph (241 km/h) on two sections of track in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which total 18 miles (29 km). There are also many miles of track, especially east of New Haven, that have been upgraded to 110 mph and 125 mph (177 km/h and 201 km/h). … The slowest section of the electrified NEC is the portion owned by Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation between New Haven and New Rochelle. Trains here are limited to only 90 mph (145 km/h) on a four mile (6 km) stretch in New York State, and to 75 mph (121 km/h) between the New York state line and New Haven. Additionally, tilting is not allowed anywhere on Metro-North or ConnDOT property. At maximum tilt, the built-too-wide Acela Express trainset would pass other trains on parallel tracks only 10 inches (25 cm) away. CONNDOT has a number of projects either planned or underway that will upgrade the catenary system, replace outdated bridges, and straighten certain sections of the New Haven Line to eventually enable the Acela trains to run at their 150 mph (240 km/h) top speed.
150 mph! Who knew? Now we do. I wonder what other services we pay good money for operate at full potential less than 10% of the time. Here’s a map snagged from the above wiki article and annotated (green lines) with the stretches covered in the photo projects in the previous chunks of this thread. See them on flickr, southbound and northbound. I wonder if the superfast section is included in those pictures.
Almost as interesting as the mechanics of high-speed train travel, here’s the contents of the first class menu on the 2166:
White Wine: Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Red Wine: Avila Syrah 2004
Starter: savory cocktail snack [that’s mixed nuts, folks]; cheese plate
Small bites [spinach & artichoke dip, hummus, cheese, crackers, olives]
72 hour braised short rib
Four cheese lasagna
Sweet: Ghirardelli chocolate [that’s one square of milk with caramel]
The menu also notes, “Thank you for traveling with Amtrak, and remember that as a first class passenger, you are welcome to relax in Club Acela before or after your trip.” After your trip? Why would you ever want to hang out in the train station once you’ve arrived where you’re going?