Acela gets interior redo; old leather to become purses

WASHINGTON — Amtrak is still a few years away from brand-new Acela trains, so it’s investing in an interior refresh on existing Acela trains — and some of what’s replaced will be recycled.

Amtrak is spending $4 million to update interiors on all 20 Acela Express train sets, including 100 Amtrak cars and almost 6,100 seats. The entire project will take 10 months, but Amtrak said no Acela service will be interrupted.

The first cars will start getting the upgrades this month. It includes new cushions and covers for business class and first-class seats and new carpet for the cars.

Materials from the existing Acela cushions and covers will be reused, recycled and turned into carpet padding, while the leather will be converted into handbags, wallets and other consumer goods, Amtrak said.

Amtrak will begin testing its new Acela trains in 2019 and plans to start introducing them into service by early 2021.

The new Acela trains will have one-third more passenger seats and more modern amenities.

The new Acela trains will allow Amtrak to increase Acela service between D.C. and New York to twice-hourly during peak hours and hourly between New York and Boston.

The new trains will operate initially at speeds up to 160 mph and will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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