Amtrak officials are offering a preview of the rail system’s new long distance passenger cars — set to begin field tests this winter.
The 130 cars will replace some of the 1940s and 1950s era cars on several long distance routes. Passengers on the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago, Boston), Cardinal (Chicago, D.C., New York), Crescent (New York, D.C. New Orleans) and Silver Service (variety of East Coast and Southern destinations) routes can expect to see the new cars in the summer of 2014.
In total, Amtrak spent $298.1 million for the new cars which include 25 sleepers, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory and 55 baggage cars. The cars were built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y.
The investment is part of a major capital improvement push that began in 2012. Amtrak also invested $466 million for 70 new locomotives to enhance the speed and reliability of rail service in the Northeast corridor
The new cars offer more modern interiors with brighter lights, more efficient air conditioning and for those who can’t put their tablets or smartphones down — additional outlets to power them. Baggage cars will also have bicycle racks for those who’d like to bring those two-wheeled vehicles with them.
Also important — the cars will be more accessible for passengers with disabilities. Amtrak recently came under fire from the National Disability Rights Network for lack of accessibility at many of its stations.
In the video below, Amtrak’s President and CEO Joseph Boardman discusses the acquisition of the new passenger rail cars.