United States train operator Amtrak has announced that it is making a major investment into its long-distance passenger experience.
The company plans to buy new trains and locomotives, refurbish existing carriage interiors, bring mothballed stock back into service. They are also planning to improve stations and on-board amenities as well as enhancing sales and support channels.
In what they say is a ‘once in a generation' investment, 14 overnight routes which stretch from coast to coast will be modernised and upgraded, with a formal procurement request to be issued before the end of the year. The delivery of ALC-25 long-distance locomotives will continue. Amtrak already has 36 of the locomotives out of a planned total of 125. The locomotive is claimed to be the most energy efficient in the industry, consuming less fuel along with reduced emissions and running at speeds of up to 125mph.
Carriages will be improved on the back of a $28m (£23m) investment to upgrade Superliner and Viewliner fleet. Already, 100 carriages are in service and that will rise to 400. Starting next year, Viewliner 1 sleeping cars will receive new seat cushions and upholstery along with new carpeting, curtains, LED lighting and tables. Newly-designed accessible toilets are being added to 23 Superliner 1 carriages which will accommodate larger wheelchairs and include a changing room.
The updated traditional dining menu which was introduced on western routes in 2021 has now been extended to eight long-distance services, while the on-board cafe menu has been enhanced with a range of new products. Private rooms on trains now have new bedding, pillows and towels.
An initial investment of $800m (£65om) has brought 119 Amtrak station up to full ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance with all stations on the network expected to be compliant by 2029. Metropolitan Lounges at seven stations have received upgraded seating and refreshments while the forthcoming Chicago Hub Improvement Programme (CHIP) will redevelop Chicago Union Station and increase capacity through infrastructure updates and a new boarding area.
If services are disrupted, Amtrak customer service teams will provide service updates, re-accommodation options and ‘service recovery measures', which may include travel vouchers or loyalty points. An improved delay notification service was launched in spring of this year while the BidUp auction programme allows passengers to make a no-risk bid on accommodation upgrades. There are also 200 new ADA-compliant ticketing kiosks available in more than 150 stations.