|Amtrak Acela; Holmesburg Junction, Pennsylvania; November 29, 2009|
It was the Pennsylvania Railroad that brought electrification to the railroad between Washington and New York. The Pennsy was just about to merge into the Penn Central (with the New York Central) when it debuted its new high speed Metroliner trains. These self-propelled trainsets raised speeds on the Corridor, and operated through the Penn Central years and into Amtrak in 1971; they were the precursors to the Acela.
|Amtrak Metroliner; Perryville, Maryland|
First, Amtrak had to decide on what it wanted. To get a better idea, it borrowed two trainsets in regular service in Europe. First up was the X2000 from Sweden. Fast and lightweight, the X2000 featured tilt technology that allowed the passenger cars to tilt on curves, countering centrifugal force and allowing for higher speeds on curves (a necessity given the curve-laden nature of the railroad east of New Haven). The X2000 certainly impressed Amtrak as it worked in regular service for several months during 1993.
|Amtrak X2000; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; April 28, 1993|
|Amtrak ICE; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; October 6, 1993|
|Amtrak Acela; Old Greenwich, Conn.; August 2001|
Some say the Pennsylvania Railroad's classic GG1 locomotives were the best thing to ever run under wire on the Northeast Corridor. It would be foolish to argue otherwise, so I won't. But I will say the Acela trainsets are a worthy successor to the GG1s and make for quite a sight coming down the tracks. Power and speed -- all in a classy package. They have one decade under their belts now and should have another two or three to go.