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Amtrak unveils new train cars with plenty for customers to love

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Amtrak is ushering in a new era of modern train travel.

The rail company just shared highlights of its new, state-of-the-art trains, dubbed Amtrak Airo, set to roll out on the Northeast Corridor from North Carolina to New York in 2026.

Passengers can expect “a new era of modern train travel,” said Amtrak spokesperson Jason Abrams of the sleek new trains that will offer what Amtrak is calling “an elevated experience.”

Amtrak’s Airo business-class seating. AMTRAK

Speaking at a press conference at New York City’s Moynihan Train Hall, Amtrak President Roger Harris said these modern new rail cars combine “sustainable transportation, world-class design and modern amenities” that are a “move toward progress and change for Amtrak” that includes the reimagined post office building that houses Moynihan Train Hall, where Amtrak trains in New York City depart and arrive.

The first images of the regional trains show shiny new cars with ergonomically designed dove gray seats with dark blue adjustable headrests and plenty of legroom and workspace. The clean, bright contemporary design also offers both cup and tablet holders at every seat. One new detail especially worth highlighting: Panoramic windows allow passengers to “enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the country,” explained Harris.

Another notable addition is redesigned cafe cars, where passengers will have more self-service options as well as “contemporary” food offerings.

Janet Ho, the assistant commissioner for New York’s Department of Transportation, said the state was especially excited about the introduction of Amtrak Airo, saying it will “help revitalize the passenger experience both in New York and across the nation with greater ADA accessibility as well as enhanced at seat amenities.”

Related: All aboard: Amtrak credit card applications are back for the first time in 10 months

Amtrak’s Airo coach-class seating. AMTRAK

And in line with New York City’s environmental programs, the hybrid-engine trains will have zero emissions while going through tunnels in New York, she added.

The new hybrid engines won’t be as fast as the new Acela trains rolling out in 2023 that will reach speeds of 160 miles an hour. However, these advanced technology trains will save time on longer journeys since they’ll be able to traverse the entire corridor without having to switch engines — currently necessary to hop from commonly used electric engines to the diesel required in more rural areas.

The new eco-friendly hybrid engines will make this transition seamless and shave about 25 minutes off the time usually required to change engines.

Related: Amtrak begins $28 million upgrade on sleeper cars and coaches


Routes for the new regional trains include the Adirondack, Carolinian, Cascades, Downeaster, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, New Haven/Springfield Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter and Virginia services.

California-based Siemens Mobility will manufacture the new fleet of 83 multipowered modern trains. Harris says that the first car should be completed by 2025 in time to roll out in 2026, with the entire fleet projected to be fully online by 2031.

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Additional reporting by Meghna Maharishi.