In November 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Of the $1.2 trillion outlined in this bill, $66 billion was allocated to rail. According to the White House, this amounts to "the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak," which was 50 years ago.
In addition to modernizing stations and completing essential improvements to bridges, tunnels, and tracks, part of the funds Amtrak received will go towards the debut of Amtrak Airo™, billed as a new era in rail travel.
WHAT IS AMTRAK AIRO?
Amtrak Airo is a new train concept designed and manufactured by Siemens Mobility in California. Amtrak President, Roger Harris, called Airo "the future of Amtrak" and said it "will transform the travel experience." Named with a nod to both old and new, Airo conjures up the image of Amtrak's original arrow logo and its newest flagship passenger train service, Acela.
ADVANCED POWER CAPABILITIES
Depending on the route, the trains will run on diesel, electric, or battery power, with some trains having dual-power capabilities.
The diesel-only trains will travel to the West Coast, where tracks are not electrified. The diesel trains with battery capability will travel to the East Coast, where New York City's tunnels require a zero-emission operation.
The other trains are dual-mode and can operate under diesel or overhead electric power. According to Amtrak's website, "these new trains offer near seamless transition between power sources where time-consuming locomotive changes were previously required." This technology, combined with top speed capabilities of 125 mph, will allow passengers to enjoy a faster travel time overall.
In addition to switching power sources more quickly, the new trains are more fuel efficient and produce 90% fewer emissions than when operating solely as diesel locomotives.
COMFORT, HI-TECH AMENITIES, AND SEAT OPTIONS
If you've ridden Florida's new Brightline train service from Miami to West Palm Beach, you've been on board Siemen's Venture brand trains. This is the same train model Amtrak will use, so passengers can experience similar amenities.
Riders will enjoy new, modern interiors with panoramic windows, plus cabins with spacious, ergonomic seating. Features include plenty of legroom, bigger and sturdier tray tables, moveable headrests, a dedicated cup holder, and a seat-back pocket. Passengers will also benefit from an upgraded cafe car, access to individual outlets, USB ports, and onboard Wi-Fi. A digital customer information system throughout the will keep riders informed throughout the journey.
When booking business class, passengers will be able to choose a window seat, a seat with aisle access, or the traditional, double seat option.
AIRO'S DEBUT AND ROUTES
Over time, the new train cars will be deployed to other routes, including Northeast Regional, Empire Service, Virginia Services, Keystone Service, Downeaster, Maple Leaf, New Haven/Springfield Service, Palmetto, Carolinian, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter, Ethan Allen Express, and Adirondack. The entire Airo fleet will not be available on all routes until 2031.