Acela Express
Intended to replace Amtrak's daily Metroliner service between Washington, D.C. and Boston, the Acela Express makes fewer stops and can at times travel more quickly than other Amtrak trains. First class and business class sections are available, and Acela Express trains feature a quiet car where cell phones and noisy children are not permitted. The Express trains also feature a redesigned café car, with a bistro-like design, free copies of the New York Times, and CNN on a TV screen. Each train has thirty-two conference tables - generally seating four people - and individual seats have electrical outlets, adjustable lighting, and larger tray tables than on other trains. Acela Express service stops at Union Station in Washington, New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton Junction, Metropark, Newark, Penn Station in New York City, Stamford, New Haven, Providence and all three major stations in Boston.

Acela Regional
Replacing Amtrak's daily NortheastDirect service, the Acela Regional runs between Boston and Newport News. Most trains are composed of newer cars, meaning each seat has an electrical outlet and the business class car has conferencing space. Snacks are offered in the café car on Acela Regional trains. Within Virginia, Acela Regional trains leave Newport News and travel to Williamsburg, Richmond, Ashland, Fredericksburg, Quantico, Woodbridge, and Alexandria before reaching Washington's Union Station. Maryland stops include New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Baltimore, and Aberdeen; the route then continues in Delaware with stops at Newark and Wilmington. The only Pennsylvanian stop is at Philadelphia; within New Jersey trains make stops at Trenton, Princeton Junction, Metropark, and Newark. After leaving Penn Station, the route continues in New York to New Rochelle before entering Connecticut for stops in Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Old Saybrook, New London, and Mystic. Within Rhode Island stops are at Westerly, Kingston, and Providence; the train then reaches Boston to stop at the Route 128 station, Back Bay station, and South Station.

Acela Commuter
Although it was previously called the Clocker, the new name better describes this route's service. Amtrak considers it their economical commuter service between Philadelphia and New York City, and frequent commuters may opt to purchase a SmartPass valid only between select city pairs. Stops include Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton Junction, Newark, and Penn Station. Coach is the only class available, but trains are generally made of newer cars.

Amtrak's complete overhaul includes their Metropolitan Lounges in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. These areas have become ClubAcela lounges, designed for business travelers with data ports, conference tables, and free coffee and snacks. While waiting for a train, visitors may use copiers, fax machines, and WWW access devices for free; meeting rooms with VCRs and speakerphones are also available for a fee. ClubAcela lounges, like their Metropolitan predecessors, are only open to those holding Acela Express tickets, and in some cases allow advance boarding when the train arrives.

About High-Speed Service
Amtrak's intensive ad campaign started well before the Acela Express service was due to be available. The brand name "Acela" - intended to blend acceleration and excellence - was unveiled in March 1999 as giant billboards were plastered everywhere, and newspapers were filled with full-page ads for what seemed to be the U.S. equivalent of France's TGV or Japan's bullet trains. No official launch date was given (the expected time was late 1999), but everyone expected it would be soon...and then it wasn't. Amtrak made a variety of excuses, including the legitimate "the trains will crash into each other on curves" and tried to appease the public by unveiling the redesigned slower service, now called Acela Regional. Technical concerns pushed the start date to December 2000, when the high-speed service finally began. Contrary to popular belief, though, not much time is saved by taking the Express instead of a Metroliner: travel between New York and Washington takes 2 hours 45 minutes, all of 15 minutes less than on the Metroliner. In fact the trains - designed by the same company that produced the trains for the TGV - cannot even reach top speed along that route. They must slow down when passing other trains and going around sharp turns, and there is no upgraded track that allows for the Express's electrical system. For about 18 miles between New York City and Boston, though, the track is suitable and the Acela Express can reach 150mph. Instead of taking a minimum of four hours, the Express trains take only 3 hours and 23 minutes for that portion of the trip.


Amtrak's 2001 Travel Planner
...and a Wall Street Journal article published within the past six months. I'd appreciate help locating it.

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