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Turboliner starts testing

01 Oct 2002

RUNNING TRIALS have finally started with the prototype RTL-III Turboliner train, one of seven being rebuilt to run at 200 km/h along the Empire Corridor between Albany and New York City. The first trip to Manhattan's Penn Station on August 27 was declared 'very successful' by New York State Department of Transportation. Among the systems tested on the run was the automatic cut-over from the Turbomeca turbine to third-rail electric power for the last leg into Manhattan.

Delivered to Amtrak in 1976, the trains are being refurbished by Super Steel Schenectady at a cost of $74·2m. Completion of the first unit has been repeatedly delayed because of design changes and numerous problems discovered by inspectors from Amtrak and NYDOT, which are funding the rebuilding programme. NYDOT and Amtrak will accept the prototype after 30 days of trouble-free testing, and then give Super Steel the go-ahead to complete the other six by the end of next year.

Total cost has jumped from $65m to $95m, and the work is two years behind schedule. Once CSX has upgraded the tracks to raise the top speed from 177 km/h to 200 km/h, the journey time from Albany to New York will be cut from 2h to 90min.