USA: Production of the bodyshells and principal components for the Avelia Liberty high speed trainsets ordered for Amtrak’s premium Acela Express service has begun at Alstom’s Hornell factory in New York state, the manufacturer has confirmed. The fleet is expected to enter service in 2021-22.

Alstom displayed a model at the APTA Expo in Atlanta on October 8-11, showcasing the final exterior design of the trainsets, which will feature short wheelbase power cars and nine articulated trailer cars. There is an option to add up to three more vehicles if demand grows.

Designed for operation at up to 300 km/h, the 28 trainsets will initially enter service at up to 255 km/h on the 735 km Northeast Corridor which links Boston with New York and Washington DC.

They will incorporate Alstom’s Tiltronix anticipatory tilting technology, and a crash energy management system meeting the latest Federal Railroad Administration crashworthiness guidelines.

Alstom’s Vice-President for Marketing & Strategy in North America Scott Sherin told Railway Gazette that the Avelia Liberty design blended experience from various high speed trains supplied internationally over recent years.

‘The trailers are based on the AGV bodyshell used in Italy and the tilt equipment is derived from our Pendolino family, while we expect the compact power car design to be selected for SNCF’s next generation of TGVs’, he said. By opting for power cars with unpowered intermediate trailers, Alstom has continued the arrangement used for the existing fleet of 20 Acela Express trains supplied by a consortium of Alstom and Bombardier in 1998-2001.

‘Amtrak initially favoured a Pendolino derivative’, Sherin explained, but ‘we were able to persuade them otherwise, partly because a move to a multiple-unit fleet would require significant alterations to depot facilities’. The Avelia Liberty is also designed to allow extra intermediate cars to be added without any mechanical or electrical alterations to the train.

Sherin suggested that once the Hornell site has experience of producing components for inter-city and high speed trainsets, it could become a supplier to the rest of the Alstom group ‘if we are price competitive’.