Report: Delays, cost overruns are impacting Amtrak’s new Acela rollout

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General has released a new report that says Amtrak’s rollout of new Acela trains will likely face future delays and cost increases.

It cites Alstom, the manufacturer contracted by Amtrak to make the new train sets, saying the vendor’s designs have not yet met federal safety requirements. Additionally, the train sets the vendor has produced so far have defects it will need to fix or modify before Amtrak can launch revenue service of new Acela trains.

Alstom is producing 28 new high-speed train sets for Amtrak under the contract. Amtrak has not accepted any of the train sets from the vendor as of August 2023, the report said.

12 of the serial train sets and 22 cafe cars produced so far have defects, according to the report. Some are safety-related, including water drainage issues that cause corrosion.

Other problems are more functional, including a report from the vendor that five windows on trains shattered spontaneously and hydraulic systems leaked. There are also problems with misaligned ceiling panels.

The report credits Amtrak for making recent improvements to management of the new Acela program, but says the program is three years behind schedule and current delays have already resulted in cost increases and delayed revenue.

Given Amtrak’s broader plans to update its national rail network, the report recommends Amtrak enhance its process for capturing and incorporating lessons from the program’s stumbles.

The full report is online.

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.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up