Soon, the Moynihan Train Hall opposite Penn Station will celebrate its second anniversary. When it comes time for its fifth birthday in 2026, the first of a fleet of 83 new tri-powered long-distance trains will traverse the tracks underneath.
Amtrak, now 51 years old, has been a staple for NYC travelers; Penn Station, and successor Moynihan Train Hall have carried passengers through tunnels east and west of Manhattan before 1971 on predecessor railroads. Most of the Amtrak fleet that aren’t Acelas in the Northeast Corridor now predates the Reagan Administration.
It’s time for a change.
And that change is coming.
Amtrak President Roger Harris officially announced the additions on December 15 at a press conference in the newly iconic train station. “As we invest in the future, Amtrak is leading the way with a new era of rail,” said Harris. He spoke about how the new train sets, known as the Airo, will transform Amtrak’s riders’ experience with environmental savings, au courant design and enhanced features that will bring passenger travel in-line with 21st century technology. It’s quite a refresh from current non-Acela equipment; new premium Acela equipment will replace the current Acela fleet, which is now more than 20 years old.
Manhattanites can look forward to traveling to Amtrak destinations everywhere from Maine to the Carolinas in comfort and speed, experiencing train travel as it should be.
Also included? Service to upstate NY, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montréal and Vermont, perennial favorites of New York County residents.
The new passenger cars will have panoramic windows, and an open, modern interior; the larger windows will make those trips along the Hudson River even better. Wi-Fi, folding middle armrests and power ports will add to the experience, as will built-in coat hangers at your seat. Seat tray tables will be larger, with adequate space for a large laptop or, perhaps, a feast from one of the Train Hall’s new restaurants.
New café cars will feature self-service items that you can choose, in addition to what the attendant oversees behind the counter. Once purchased, there will be seats with small dining tables replacing today’s booths, a current café car staple that will disappear when the new trains come on line. Digital signage inside and outside the train will make it easier for passengers to find where they need to be, Larger lavatories, ADA Accessible, will feature touch-free entrances.
Harris noted a new feature — a seat reservation system in both classes of service, and more table seating for small groups in each car. Seating will be the standard two seats across from each other in coach, with two seats across from a single in business class, which will be in a separate car.
Cutting Travel Times
Utilizing diesel, electric and battery propulsion for power, the fuel-efficiency on the Airos will be enhanced by much smaller particulate emission when the diesel engines are being used. Capable of operating up to 125 mph, engine power changes at current locations will vanish, cutting travel times even more.
The new trains will be manufactured by Siemens in Sacramento, California. They will replace current equipment built as early as 1968, the first new trains slated to start in 2025 on routes in the Pacific Northwest; the last of the 83 train sets is expected to be delivered in 2031. Some financial support for the procurement will derive from a share of Amtrak’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding.
“If anybody still wonders if the best days of passenger rail are ahead of us, they now have the visual proof and can rest assured. The best is yet to come, thanks to a focus on enhancing passenger amenities and employing greener technologies,” said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.
Most of the Amtrak fleet that aren’t Acelas in the Northeast Corridor now predates the Reagan Administration.