By Gary Pancavage/photos by the author
After two months of set-up and preparation in in Philadelphia’s Penn Coach Yard, the second next-generation high speed Acela trainset made its public debut along Philadelphia’s Main Line on Thursday, 28, 2020. Word spread quickly across social media as the sleek new equipment quietly glided west through well-known locations at Overbrook, Wynnewood, and Bryn Mawr before turning back at Thorndale. While the first trainset continues to undergo shakedown runs at TTCI’s Pueblo facility, this was the first time set number two operated outside the confines of 28 track in Penn Coach Yard. Speed was held to 50 MPH and less in all locations as a series of Positive Train Control testing was conducted each way.
Satisfied with the results gained from the previous day’s outing, the test crew went farther west to Lancaster station without incident on Friday, May 29. Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line provided the perfect stage to put the new equipment through its paces, as Keystone Service was suspended due to the COVID pandemic and SEPTA was operating on a reduced schedule at the same time. It also provided a rare opportunity for fans to document the new equipment in locations where an Acela trainset has never run before.
The new Acela 21 equipment is currently being manufactured by Alstom at its facilities in Hornell, N.Y. With features resembling existing French TGV and Spanish Pendolino trains operating overseas, Acela 21 will be modified to conform to current North American railroad standards, including all mandatory FRA criteria on crashworthiness. A total of twenty-eight trainsets have been ordered to replace the 20 existing Bombardier-Alstom equipment in service today. Revenue service is expected to start sometime in 2021, with all sets in service by 2022…