Amtrak plans to operate high-speed test trains at 165 mph in four areas covering more than 100 miles of the Northeast Corridor. The tests in Maryland / Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are locations that may at some future time experience regular 160 mph service.
The tests will utilize high-speed Acela Express equipment and will measure the interaction between the train and the track, rider quality and other safety factors. The test runs must be performed at 5 mph above the expected maximum operating speed of 160 mph.
The test areas between approximately Perryville, Md. – Wilmington, Del. (21.3 miles) and Trenton – New Brunswick, N.J. (22.9 miles) currently have a maximum speed limit of 135 mph. The test areas between approximately Westerly – Cranston, R.I. (29.2 miles) and South Attleboro – Readville, Mass. (27.8 miles) currently have a maximum speed limit of 150 mph. The same areas were used for similar high-speed tests before the introduction of Acela service.
The initial test run is in New Jersey where Amtrak is presently advancing design, engineering and other pre-construction activities for a $450 million project funded by the federal high-speed rail program. The project includes upgrading track, electrical power, signal systems and overhead catenary wires to improve reliability for Amtrak and commuter rail service, and is necessary to permit regular train operations at the faster speeds. Some construction activity is anticipated in 2013, but the project will ramp up dramatically thereafter to be completed in 2017.