A look inside new Acela's power car

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The left operator's screen displays brake pressure, power consumption, and other information. The temporary wi-fi antenna above the screen facilitated transmission of data from sensors during the train's trip to Colorado.
Bob Johnston
The screen shown above is to the left of the operator's seat, which is centered in the cab interior.
TRAINS: David Lassen
The air compressor, at right, is at the rear of power car 2100's interior hallway.
Bob Johnston

CHICAGO — The Acela 2 trainset which was due to arrive in Colorado today to begin high speed testing has no seats or interior furnishings — only concrete ballast designed to simulate various load factors. That trainset — the first of a 28-train order — left Alstom’s Hornell, N.Y., plant Monday for the Association of American Railroads’ Transportation Technology Center near Pueblo, Colo.

But Trains News Wire was able to get a first look inside the cab of power car 2100 when it paused for a media event Tuesday on Chicago Union Station’s track 2 before following the Southwest Chief out of town.

Alstom Train Manager Dave Meredith, who accompanied the equipment as it heads west, explains that sensors have been installed on every axle to make sure everything runs smoothly.

“We’re able to monitor the output of sensors to measure wheel slip,” he tells Trains News Wire. “If for some reason we have a locked axle, we’ll know it in real time and be able to safely stop the train. In addition, we have sensors that monitor train systems specifically for transport.”

Transmission of data is aided by an in-cab Wi-Fi setup that permits remote monitoring.

Head-end power was provided by the trailing Amtrak P42, coupled behind a Viewliner II baggage car as a buffer and heritage crew sleeper Pacific Bend.

Meredith says one of the main goals at Pueblo is to exhaustively test the trainset’s active tilt mechanism at various speeds on the electrified track’s elevated curves.

The Acela 2 is designed to operate at 6 to 9 inches of cant deficiency, “which is pretty substantial,” he notes. The track is designed with elevated curves as high as 6 inches, though most of the legacy Amtrak Northeast Corridor tracks the Acela 2 will use won’t allow it to reach the speeds of 160 mph at which it will be tested.  

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